2439 km. This is the distance the Atlantic Attack travelled to complete their first three victories in the NRL. As many big sister NRL teams in the past have experienced, planning your very first team road trip is no easy feat. Once you have booked your hotel, the ball is finally rolling. Unless, of course, you book all of your rooms on Priceline and the website cannot verify how many beds each room will feature. Quickly, you resort to Plan B, and ‘just in case’ air mattresses are pulled from basements and garages and ready to be thrown amongst the team equipment in a convoy of vans. Once the vans and hotel are booked, you must then decide who is going in what vehicle and what time that vehicle is leaving. You have secured drivers and the date is quickly approaching, but there are Friday mid-terms, and university classes, and work schedules. You suddenly realize you have five vans leaving at separate scheduled departure times and you wish you had purchased those WestJet shares back in 2002.
It’s now Friday, October 14th, 2011 and the Atlantic Attack are on the road with the single largest fleet of hair dryers, i-pods, and ice skates to ever pass the NB-Quebec border twice in a 48 hour span. As the delirium of being on the road sets in after the first six hours, you begin to bargain with your driver that you can forfeit the ‘pee breaks’ and the Tim Horton’s stop with the goal of reaching the hotel before the van that left an hour earlier than you. Once you arrive at the hotel, you mingle for a bit amongst all of the rooms, and retire back to yours for a sleepless night caused by the anticipation of your NRL debut. As a player that is a Toronto Maple Leafs fan, you will soon quickly learn that in this league, your coach is always two steps ahead of you. When you find your prized Leafs pajamas tied into the largest fabric knot humanly possible, you know that your die-hard Montreal Canadien’s coach likely dropped by for a visit.
Finally, it is game day! It’s no big deal that the helmets do not match because they came in the wrong sizes, or the team gloves are on backorder. The hours pass by quickly, and your team finds itself up 2 points, then 4 points, then 6 points in the standings. On Sunday, you begin the long trek back home and feel physically and mentally exhausted. After midnight, you arrive at your door step following multiple messages of congratulations and phone calls from your family and friends. At that entrance to your house, it all sets in. You’ve done something absolutely remarkable in your NRL debut, and although you faced obstacles, and hurdles, and did not have the opportunity to wear pajama pants to bed, you know that despite coming from behind on the scoreboard twice out of three games; these NRL road trips are what build a team. As you lie in bed and reflect on your first weekend as a player in the largest, elite ringette league in the country, you know you would do absolutely anything to have the feelings you felt while you were out there on the ice…again.