On the Road Again

What does every sport at Presque Isle High School have in common? The travel.

A+bus+decorated+in+Wildcat+colors+prepares+to+leave+for+an+ice+hockey+playoff+game.

Deborah Hodgkins

A bus decorated in Wildcat colors prepares to leave for an ice hockey playoff game.

Cameron Levasseur, Staff Writer

  1. A map of every away venue Presque Isle Athletics competed at this winter season:

It’s 7:45 am on a chilly Saturday morning. Twenty-one groggy teenagers stare blankly around at their peers as the inside of the school bus windows become as foggy as their sleepy minds. Such is the life of a Wildcat high school athlete. 

In high school sports, the biggest event of a team’s season can often be attributed to a game with a cross town rival. For our hockey team that doesn’t exist, because another team doesn’t exist for nearly 50 miles. 

The 2019-20 season came to a close with a difficult loss in the North Regional Final this past Thursday at the Alfond Arena in Orono on the UMaine campus. It was a two and a half hour journey south for the Wildcats, which for some may seem like a long haul, but for this team, it was nothing.

Out of 11 road games this season, nine were trips of that length or longer.

They spent 64 and a half hours on the road. Covering nearly four thousand miles.

That’s enough mileage for a trip to Los Angeles with 600 miles to spare. 

These staggering figures tower over the rest of the league, and the rest of the state for that matter. Only one team (Gardiner) comes within half of these total miles traveled, and they only come that close because they made the trip to Presque Isle twice, which accounts for 49% of their total miles.  

This may seem like a major disadvantage to any team, in any sport, but to this one in particular it was, if anything, an advantage. “Looking at our record this past season, our record in away games was much better than our home games,” said senior defenseman Carter Jackson. The Wildcats went 8-2-1 on the road this season and 6-4 at home, begging the question of why a team would seemingly compete with more energy after sitting on a bus for hours than in a game played less than a stone’s throw away from the high school.

Road trips often take the team to bigger rinks, which suited the team’s skills. “Our team’s really built on speed, and with a smaller rink [as The Forum is], it’s probably harder,” said junior defenseman Noah Roy.

For other Presque Isle teams this winter, it was one in same in terms of travel, four of the five other varsity programs also exceeded 1,500 miles over the course of the season, with the only outlier being the nordic ski team, who made up for their “lack” of race day miles with the fact that they traveled to practice  in Caribou on a regular basis. 

That additional travel, while time consuming, was seemingly worth every mile. “I think we had a really successful season with the coach. It was completely worth driving to Caribou every day,” said junior Amanda Winslow. “The level of coaching was like nothing I’ve had before.”

The boys and girls basketball teams each broke the two thousand mile mark, spending roughly 39 and 49 hours respectively on the road since the regular season began in December. Ultimately, the positives that came from the extended time as a group outweighed the slog of heavy travel. “Traveling has its plus and minuses, but we got our rest and our team chemistry went up significantly throughout the season on the road,” said sophomore Xavier McAtee.

Added all together, Presque Isle athletics traveled 13,084 miles and spent just over 228 hours in transit to or from games, races, and competitions since December began.  Around a thousand miles a week for fourteen weeks. 

It’s an everlasting cycle for every Wildcat past or present, so as snow turns to grass and winter becomes spring, those same athletes will board those same buses to head down those same old roads once again.