Red Raiders bond on Florida trip

Tor­ring­ton goes un­beaten over five games

The Register Citizen (Torrington, CT) - - SPORTS - By Peter Wal­lace

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

PHOTO BY PETER WAL­LACE

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.

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