For the Iowa softball team, every weekend is a business trip — even when the team travels to luxurious locations early in the season.
Iowa’s first home game isn’t until March 19, so the Hawkeyes have and will continue to travel all over the country to get in their games. They have been to South Carolina, Georgia, Hawaii, and Florida to start the season and will continue playing in Florida each weekend until their first home game.
When the Hawkeyes aren’t playing, they have had some downtime to explore the warm places they’re in. When they were in Hawaii, they got to go to the beach and explore the island.
“I mean, it’s a once in a lifetime opportunity that you’re never going to get back,” sophomore catcher Kit Rocco said. “And trying to explain that to people, unless you’re a student athlete, you just really won’t understand it.”
The trips not only are fun for the Hawkeyes, but they are a time for the team to get closer to each other. With each trip taking up multiple days, the team is forced to hang around each other.
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Head coach Renee Gillispie likes how this team is coming together on an interpersonal basis.
“For them to be able to love on each other and take care of each other through these long trips is important,” Gillispie said. “And you see that they get to know each other a little bit more and they know how to fight for each other each week.”
That ability to fight for each other has been evident on the field this season. The Hawkeyes have a 14-4 record so far this season, which is only five fewer wins than they had all last season.
But that’s not the only place where the Hawkeyes are doing well. Each night, the team has study tables to get their homework done.
“It’s a lot of time management skills for sure, but having study halls every day after our games really helps us get everything on track,” junior pitcher Lauren Shaw said.
Shaw also said that on these trips, the Hawkeyes do a lot of recovery and rehab, a couple extra workouts, eat and sleep a lot, and try to stay healthy.
Traveling on the road is a change compared to what Gillispie has done in the past. Previously the head coach at Texas Tech and Central Florida, Gillispie was used to playing at home for the first month of the season.
She described the traveling as a balance act between the team keeping up with its studies and getting ready to play. When the Hawkeyes went to play in Hawaii on Feb. 21-23, Gillispie said, they were tired afterward and had to take some time to recover. However, she said they had a great practice between that series and the trip they took down to Florida last weekend.
With the Hawkeyes traveling back to Florida for the next two weekends, they won’t be as tired as when they went to Hawaii. But like before, they will keep the balancing act between academics and athletics.
“Just get ahead and stay ahead with school and softball, and I think we’re going to be golden,” Rocco said.