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Spring sports travel during break

Softball+travels+to+Los+Angeles%2C+visiting+Disney+Land+and+more.+Graphic+Design+by+staffer+Ella+Hughes.+
Softball travels to Los Angeles, visiting Disney Land and more. Graphic Design by staffer Ella Hughes.

Softball in Cali

In a hotel lobby on the evening of March 9, head softball coach Isis Amao brought her players together to discuss the itinerary for the upcoming team bonding day. Acting as normal as she could, Amao announced that they would be hiking to the Hollywood sign and rounding out the day with a beach trip.

But since the Mavs’ hotel was within walking distance of Disneyland, the girls had been anticipating a visit to the amusement park on their off day. The team tried to mask their disappointment.

“They didn’t want to hurt my feelings,” Amao said. “They really kept it together.”

As the team prepared to return to their rooms, Amao broke the news that she was lying. The team would in fact be visiting Disneyland the next day. Excited screams filled the hotel lobby.

“We all fell for her trick,” freshman Andy Trejo Escalona said.

Amao always tries to surprise her team with moments like these on their annual spring break trip, which balances games with fun activities. 

For the inaugural trip in 2015, Amao brought her team to Orlando, Florida to compete in a popular tournament at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex. When this excursion became too expensive, Amao began to put together her own game schedule with available schools in other parts of Florida such as Cocoa Beach and Fort Lauderdale. 

This year, Amao took the team to Los Angeles for the first time because the boys’ and girls’ lacrosse teams were playing in California too — a decision that proved beneficial to players’ sleep schedules. After flying in late on Thursday night, the team was able to sleep in and reset for a doubleheader— two games in one day — on Friday due to the two-hour time difference.

“When it’s seven o’clock in California, it’s really nine o’clock in Houston,” Amao said. “It was a blessing in disguise.”

To captain Lillian Pate, the team dynamic at the beginning of the season differed from previous years due to the current team consisting of 13 freshmen. Even with the arrival of many underclassmen, she did not notice a distinct divide between older and younger players during the trip.

“Everybody was talking to everybody,” Pate said. “Even when traveling from the hotel to games, we were able to connect more from being in a new environment and spending so much time with each other.”

Trejo Escalona recalls making the most of little moments, such as waiting in line for 90 minutes for a Disneyland ride. Even when the line slowed to a crawl, the girls ended up playing Charades and Photo Roulette to pass the time.

“We were all annoyed at first, but it ended up being really fun and worth it in the end,” Trejo Escalona said. 

While the Mavs went 3-3 in California, Amao enjoyed seeing the fun side of her players off the field. 

“That’s how I can get to know someone more and build our relationship as a coach and a player,” she said.

 

Baseball in Florida

While the softball players enjoyed the rides at Disney, the baseball team headed to the beach instead.

For their spring break trip, the Mavs went to Tampa, Florida. There, they ran into their first obstacle at the Miami airport, where they waited on rental cars for two hours upon landing. When they finally made it to their hotel, the players only had 15 minutes to grab a meal and get ready for practice. 

“It was a crazy situation because we were hitting spring break while everybody else in the country was hitting spring break,” Coach Melvin Baker said. 

The hectic start didn’t stop the Mavs from going 4-1 on their trip.

Baker attributes the team’s performance in Florida to a solid showing by the pitching staff, which has been the Mavs’ strong suit for the entire season. When their offense came alive, the Mavs proved unstoppable.

According to Baker, team dynamic largely remained the same throughout the trip.

“They have their mind set on one goal this year and you can tell,” Baker said. “They take it upon themselves to go one game at a time.”

Senior Nolan Hughes says that the Florida trip proved to the players that they can compete against top-notch teams and come out victorious. According to Hughes, their one loss in Florida came to one of the best, if not the best, teams they had faced all year.

“It’s never felt like we’ve been out of a game,” Hughes said. “And does that mean we win every game? No. But we know that it’s not over until the end of the seventh inning.”

Off the field, the team spent their free time playing spikeball at the beach and vying against one another at Topgolf. Baker found it extremely fun to watch his players have a blast while competing in other sports.

“Being a St. John’s student athlete with books and then coming out to perform for us isn’t easy,” Baker said. “Seeing these guys away from school in an everyday setting and just having that chemistry and bonding time is always great.”

The Mavs finished their trip with a team dinner, which accompanying families were also invited to attend. The dinner gave the entire baseball program the opportunity to connect with one another, reflect and look forward, which Baker and Hughes both appreciate. 

Baker also emphasizes that planning these activities took a massive amount of effort, which is where the coaches received outside help. According to Baker, the parents of the senior captains played an instrumental role in purchasing plane tickets, booking hotels and planning team meals.

“With such a big group, the parents are the logistic spokespeople,” Baker said.

To Hughes, his last trip as a Maverick baseball player was bittersweet.

“Looking back on my time here, I remember the times with my friends outside of playing baseball the most,” he said.

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About the Contributor
Yutia Li
Yutia Li, Staff Writer
Yutia Li ('27) joined The Review in 2023 as a freshman. She likes to chug coconut water and enjoys diving head-first into softball bases.

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