Red Raiders bond on Florida trip
Torrington goes unbeaten over five games
TORRINGTON » High school sports teams often come up short-handed when players go on vacation with their parents during spring break.
This year, Torrington High School’s whole softball team went together. Call it a working vacation.
The Red Raiders went to Florida, playing five games (two of them official) in five days at ESPN’s sports complex in Kissimmee, a 10-minute shuttle ride from Disney World.
“We saw other area teams going (Wamogo and Naugatuck) and we thought it would be a really fun experience,” said center fielder Taylor Rogers.
“We’ve been playing together since T-Ball, so the team to bring was us,” said left fielder Nina Julian.
Fun was just part of it for the Raiders.
“The kids played loose and it was an awesome bonding experience,” said head coach Maryann Musselman.
Bonding began in T-Ball, but the serious business began with 12 kids and their parents raising money for the trip.
“We had fund-raisers all over town and raised a pretty good amount, then paid the rest ourselves,” said Julian.
The pieces fell together. Assistant Coach Amanda Short worked an after-college internship at Disney World, manning the Mission: Space ride at EPCOT. Reney Tours in Bristol arranged every detail, from scheduling games at the ESPN complex to wake-up times at the team’s Caribbean Beach Resort home base in Disney World.
“They do it for lots of teams,” said Musselman. “Kristen Reney did a fabulous job of everything.”
Scheduling is one thing. Making it work was part of the bonding.
The team met at Torrington High School at 5 a.m. Monday, April 10, for the ride to Bradley Field in a school team bus for an 8 a.m. flight.
If the Caribbean Beach Resort sounds glamorous, try packing four girls in each room.
“We went to breakfast, sometimes for an 8 a.m. game, after four showers in a row in one bathroom,” laughs right fielder Sidnee Kovall.
Nobody was complaining. The hotel was full of other teams. The first view of the ESPN complex was mind blowing.
“There were football fields, soccer fields, lacrosse, baseball and softball,” said Rogers. “Plus it’s where the Braves have spring training so we saw their stadium.”
Passes and wrist bands were part of the arrangements, so the kids got their fill of Disney World — “We went to every park,” smiled second baseman Alexis Tyrrell.
Serious softball came every day as well. “Playing loose” turned into a 10-1 romp over Naugatuck on Tuesday, followed by doubleheaders Wednesday and Thursday, alternating with Wamogo and Rockville.
“Rockville played without four of their starters in our first game with them (the unofficial one),” said first baseman Amanda Thiel. “They were all there for the second game (official) and that was one of the highlights of our trip.”
The Raiders won 2-1 in extra innings.
Going undefeated in five games is a highlight of any sports trip, but there were plenty of others.
“It created lifelong memories,” said Short. “It’s not something every kid experiences.”
“We all rode the Tower of Terror together,” said third baseman Carissa Carbone. “When would you ever be able to have a whole team screaming together on the same ride?”
“The fun was just being with everyone,” said pitcher Ali Dubois. “Everyone was so happy.”
And still, the biggest impact, near future and lifelong, was the bonding.
“We don’t always see each everyone off the field,” said Thiel. “This got us a lot closer; you were able to put your differences together and see who they really are – to see why they do what they do, good things and bad things, on and off the field.”
Every family trip veteran relates to that.
“We don’t always see each everyone off the field. This got us a lot closer; you were able to put your differences together and see who they really are — to see why they do what they do, good things and bad things, on and off the field.” — Torrington’s Amanda Thiel
Torrington High School’s softball team cemented its bonds with a spring break trip to Florida last week, going undefeated over a five-game span at the ESPN sports complex.