The William and Mary women travelled over 3,500 miles together over the past 10 days. For some perspective, that journey is the equivalent of making it about one seventh of the circumference of the Earth.
The trips involved travelling to Pennsylvania and Texas for tough road games, including a match against Texas A&M, the top-ranked team in the nation.
“It’s crazy,” redshirt junior forward Sarah Segan said. “I’ve definitely never experienced anything like this.”
Coming home with a 1-1 record for the road trip, the team got back to Williamsburg just in time to get the orders to evacuate: Hurricane Florence was on its way.
“We’ve already been with each other for two weeks straight,” senior midfielder Arundel Miguelez said. “And then we have to go again for another week straight. Good thing that we love each other so much and we’re not sick of each other.”
The storm sent both the men’s and women’s teams to Frederick, Maryland, where they stayed in a local hotel and practiced at a local high school. In the strangest of situations, head coach Julie Shackford ’88 tried to keep the daily routine as normal as possible: practice and training in the morning, study time in the afternoon and team dinners at night.
“For team bonding purposes it was awesome, so we’re very thankful that the athletics department supported us to do that,” Shackford said.
Maintaining that normality was difficult, as team members, just like everyone else in the region, were keeping an eye on the weather radar, watching Florence ebb and flow toward the coast of the Carolinas and wondering how badly it would hit Virginia.
“It was just kind of day by day, trying to read [the storm],” Shackford said. “We weren’t sure how it was going to hit. We knew we were pretty much out of harm’s way.”
Keeping focused on training despite the storm threat was crucial for the Tribe. The team is about to hit a turning point in its season; Thursday, the College enters conference play, starting off its Colonial Athletic Association season with a match against the College of Charleston.
“We knew that when went to Maryland we had to train, because games were coming up,” Segan said. “Conference literally starts Thursday, so we had to do what we can to keep the level high and keep it going throughout the way.”
The responsibility of keeping the team focused and engaged, even when members spent long weeks away from home, often falls on the shoulders on the veterans of the team. Segan and Arundel, two of the captains who were selected to lead the team this summer, know that making sure everyone knows how they fit on the team is crucial to seeing success through unpredictable obstacles like hurricane evacuations.
“It’s like a puzzle,” Segan said. “If you have one piece of the puzzle that’s maybe not working as hard, things fall apart. So, you just gotta know that you gotta do your part. You gotta keep staying tough and motivate your teammates to do the same.”
There was one more surprise coming the Tribe’s way as they waited in Frederick for the okay to come back home: Tribe Athletics announced at noon Saturday that the College would be moving a home game against Virginia Commonwealth up to Sunday. The team travelled to Williamsburg Sunday, then played its first match in a week hours later.
“We kind of have a mantra that’s #onemore,” Miguelez said. “That kind of goes over everything. One more tackle, one more touch on the ball, one more pass, and it kind of encourages us to go forward with everything that we do.”
That motto pushed the travel-weary team through a tough home match against the Rams, where despite being dominated in shot totals the College managed to keep it a close game, eventually conceding a 1-0 loss. Now, the hashtag will guide the team through the start of conference play as they hit the road again in just a few days, hoping to get that #onemore against Charleston Thursday.
Sports Editor Brendan Doyle contributed reporting.