With the first week of the season in the books, the New Britain Bees now face their toughest opponent of the season- the road. Friday’s away game against the Ducks was the first of 70 road games the Bees will have this season - 70 games of baseball in 7 different stadiums spanning 6 states. With road trips ranging from cities as close as Bridgeport, CT to all way to Sugar Land, TX, the Bees will be forced to spend many hours together as a team. That can be a both a curse and a blessing for teams. While the frustration and boredom will inevitably creep in, so does the team bonding that leads to valuable team chemistry.
“It kind of takes you out of your element”, says Bees Manager Stan Cliburn. “Sometimes going on the road is a good break for the guys. It’s a good time to build team chemistry, having to spend so much time around your teammates. You always have to look at road trips as trips where you have to play good baseball. Playing .500 on the road is a mark that every team that is successful likes to be at. This road trip is good timing for us, to get off because we’ve been in one spot for a month and we’re looking forward to it.”
While on the road, there is a lot of down time spent on the bus. Players such as Bees pitcher Mike Hepple, take the time to bond with teammates by partaking in the Bees most popular downtime activity: Playing cards. “I like to play cards with the guys. It’s a good way to be able to get together with the guys and just relax,” says Hepple.
While a lot of players may just listen to music and nap, others take that opportunity to bond with teammates by passing the time doing various activities together. Bees pitcher Nate Roe is one of those guys who just sits back and takes it all in. “Some guys play cards, I’m not really a card guy”, says Roe. “I just kind of sit and hang out and partake in any conversation that’s around me. Usually the moods are pretty light, which is nice and everyone’s just kind of relaxing and chilling out”.
While at times the trips can be filled with relaxing, fun, team bonding activities, they can also be a torturous time filled with long games and long nights. “The toughest travel days are the ones where you finish up a late game and you travel all night and you get home at 5 or 6 in the morning after playing a game that day, those days are by far the toughest part about traveling,” Hepple added.
The Bees will have many late nights this season, having to play 70 games on the road this season. “It’s important toget your body right for the game,” says Roe. “You’re sitting on the bus and sometimes those days can be long. Just trying to stay on the same sleep patterns and making sure you get rest and just waking up your legs once you get to the park is critical”.
According to Manager Stan Cliburn, it is also crucial to get into a pattern and keep things loose. “You’re in close quarters there at the hotel together and you have a bus schedule where you leave every afternoon. Then after the game at night you all come back as a team to the hotel and go to your room, watch a little SportsCenter and call it an evening.”
Aside from the long, late nights, the Bees are looking forward to getting out on the road and welcoming all the experiences that come along with the road trips. “Riding on the bus with your team, I feel like you get a lot of team comradery that way,” says Roe. “Bus rides are usually fun and getting to go to different parks and play at different places in front of different crowds is always great.You’ve got Sugar Land, Somerset, and all these different, beautiful parks that you get to go to, so it’s always a fun experience.”
For every baseball player the road offers the opportunity to bond with teammates and create everlasting memories. “There’s so many different memories from the road,” recalls Hepple, “But the thing about being in a clubhouse or on the road with the guys, is there’s just a lot of small things that kind of happen throughout the day that are really funny or just kind of like a bonding experience. It’s not really just one moment, it’s really the whole day.”
The Bees return from their first road trip on Sunday night, and will face the Somerset Patriots on Monday, May 1 for the first game of a four game series. Tickets are available by calling (860) 826-BEES, online at nbbees.com, and at the New Britain Stadium Box Office.