Hawks deal with derailment on opening road trip

For many athletes at Quincy University, traveling is a large influence on their schedule, time management, and identity as a student athlete. While trips during season can become stressful and rushed, it is also one of the largest examples of bonding a team has throughout a season. 

The men’s lacrosse program took their first trip of the year, east of the Mississippi River, to face two teams from the GMAC for non-conference play. With lots of pressure for a good start to the season, the team prepared for the weekend trip the Monday prior, delegating what player brought equipment and having enough clothes for the 48 hour vacation.

The trip began early Thursday morning, as players packed pillows for the ten hour bus ride across three states. While bus rides can be uncomfortable, it is the most opportune time to stay ahead of school work, like Christian Czarny has become accustomed to.

“I often try to get my weekend homework done during this first stint of every bus ride, even when we leave sometimes at 6 a.m. My thought is my time will only get more cramped as we get closer to game time, so I’d rather have one stress of my day completed,” Czarny said.

Two students sitting next to each other on the bus. They are working on homework during the long trip.
Jared Shulin, left, and Connor Nock, right, listen to music while finishing homework.

Most of the squad caught up on beauty sleep or found ways to pass time. Card games, karaoke, and riddles are always fan favorites, and a selection of comedy movies at the player’s disposal.

Traveling also gives players the opportunity to enjoy food they have back home, including Chick-Fil-A and Whataburger as roadside meals on the way to Canton, Ohio. Meals like this help players, like Mason Marano, enjoy the little things.

Zach Springborn, lacrosse player, walking out of Chick-Fil-A with his meal.
Zach Springborn, pictured, walking out with a Chick-Fil-A meal in Indianapolis, Indianna.

“I’m always stoked whenever we can get Chick-Fil-A. The fact that Quincy still doesn’t have a Chick-Fil-A or Canes is a crime. Even if the bus rides are a lot, I always know we will get better food that we don’t have back at school. It’s a nice switch up,” Marano said.

But on this trip, new food was not the only talking point for this road trip. 

Players soon learned the proximity of the hotel in Canton to East Palestine, Ohio.

Picture of the train car pileup, smoke and fire is ignited from the wreck.
Picture of train derailment in East Palestine, Ohio Courtesy of USA Today.

East Palestine is the sight of the recent train derailment that released hazardous chemicals into the surrounding area. While the crash happened on February 3, danger for chemical exposure to nearby citizens was prominent during the team’s arrival. With only a 50 mile separation from the crash site, to both of the Hawks’ games this weekend, players began to question the worth of the trip.

“To be totally honest I don’t know if we should be here. We aren’t drinking any of the tap water so I don’t think anyone should get contaminated, it’s just hard to believe we are close to this disaster by chance and makes it more important to focus on these games,” Jack Whalon, freshman, said.

After contacting both opposing coaches about the situation it was deemed safe to play both games during the weekend. The players drank purified water from plastic bottles to avoid possible contamination from the tap water in surrounding towns.

Even after the headlines created a possible distraction for the team, the Hawks took care of business on the trip, defeating Wheeling University 13-7, and Malone University 18-11, making it a happy long bus ride home. 

The Hawks touched back into Quincy around three in the morning on Sunday. With many players still half asleep, the Hawks were buzzing on a 3-1 start to the season, and look to recoup before their next road trip to Alabama and Florida over spring break. 

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