Tuesday, October 19, 2021

Phoenix Pod Travel Diary

The following diary style entries will chronicle SFA Volleyball's first journey "West" to take on our new WAC adversaries.  From October 19 through October 23, the 'Jacks will travel to Phoenix to participate in the "Phoenix Pod" of matches that will see us battle with New Mexico State, Utah Valley University and Grand Canyon University.  

You can follow along with our daily travels and experiences below with the most recent entries at the top of this post:

Add two hours for "Texas" times...


2:20 AM The bus has arrived at the Commuter Lot. Home Sweet Home. The Phoenix Pod trip officially comes to an end.

1:36 AM Texas Time, Sunday:   Getting closer.  Bus rolls through Henderson and all is quiet. After the gals got their Buccees fix, the sleep set in. Just a little bit longer and we’ll be home.

11:52 PM Texas Time.  Bus makes a pit stop at Buccees Terrell,  I got popcorn (of course,,,my go-to) and a Dr. Pepper Icee.

9:45 Texas Time.. On the ground at Love

5:24 We are boarding the plane and uhhh.. couldn’t find Evan.  Everyone texting him and calling.. no answer. Then, at the last minute he makes it on the plane.  He fell asleep at Starbucks.  Now THAT is a story for the ages.

3:33 PM Team making it through security at Sky Harbor Airport and all the gals scattering for food . Flight departs at 5:25 local time (7:25 Texas Time).  So, we’ve got some time to kill.

2:10 PM  Club making their way out to the bus - it’s the Party Bus again.  Team has no reason to hang heads as it was a strong effort against GCU, but unfortunately the bus won’t be quite as live as if we had squeezed out the win

1:22 PM  Tight match goes GCU’s way.  Every set tight.  Great competition and a very fun match to call and watch in places.  Just came up a little short

10:03  Well, you can hear them singing in the locker room from a hallway away, so they’re ready.  About to make their way onto the floor for the last battle in the Phoenix Pod

9:13 AM Light breakfast brought in to the gym.  It’s kicked  back time again as we still have 45 minutes until warmups.  This trip has been action packed except for the 90 minute time frame after pass and serve and before warmups.  

7:59 AM  The club breaks into a hilarious rock paper scissors battle to race around the court with each "team" trying to send one gal all the way around the perimeter of the floor and being intercepted by a teammate running the opposite direction.  To continue, a rock paper scissors win has to occur.  I'm sure there is a name for these shenanigans, but no matter.. it was a fun moment to watch before pass and serve.

7:19 AM  Team arrives at GCU Arena.  Pass and Serve starts at 8:00 AM

6:48 AM  Team loading up on bus and about ready to roll to gym.   We have to bring everything we’ve got into the locker rooms with us since we are gonna have a different bus going to airport after we’re done at the gym.   Ready to get after it.

4:46 AM  Everyone has to be up early as the bus pulls out of the hotel at 6:50 AM this morning.  I'm up, packed, showered and pretty much ready to go.  I have a few more notes to make and then I'll see if I can round up a few cans of orange juice from the lobby breakfast.  For some reason, I'm grooving on that stuff.  Gotta go plus Vitamin C on a long day like this.  Hoping and expecting a repeat of yesterday where the gals played so well.  100% confident they can do it.


9:23 PM  After an hour more of making out notes and reading on Grand Canyon University for tomorrow, I think I'll leave the last few things for in the morning.  It's gonna be an EARLY start, but we've got one more day and another "W" that we have to chase.

8:24 After a brief break to chat with my family, I'm back preparing for broadcast - making out GCU team sheets based on the stats and info from film.  Had to check in with my 14-year old daughter who is having a girls sleep over at my house tonight.  See how that works?  Girl sleep over with 14-year olds giggling all evening or quiet hotel with king size bed and assortment of snacks to keep me going for a few more hours.  I love all my crew, but I'll let them have the sleep over TONIGHT while Mom's in charge and then quiet house late Saturday and Sunday after I get home.  #QualityParentingMove

7:48 Team film session for GCU concludes and the team is dismissed for the night.  We've got a very full day tomorrow with a very early start.  As usual, I'll stay up a while, but many have surely headed to bed with a busy day and key match on tap tomorrow against host Grand Canyon University.

6:15  Hot bus makes it to Whole Foods Market for dinner shopping.  Trainer Alex Howard and I ditch that idea and go across the street to grab In N Out Burger.   That’s a win.   We’re headed back to the hotel for film on GCU after everyone gets food

5:36  Everyone getting on the bus and the bus is HOT!  A/C not working well.  Yikes!

5:18 PM MUCH BETTER!  SFA Takes Care of Utah Valley in 4.  Nice balanced offense, great serving, better blocking and passing.  All around a better effort and positive outcome!

1:53 PM  Countdown until taking the floor at 2 PM.  #WeReady

1:06 PM  Team done with pass and serve and had Jason’s Deli delivered to the gym for lunch.  Pretty much everyone just kicked back now waiting for 2:00 to hit and warm ups to begin.

11:21 AM  Arrived at the gym and some of us are getting a chance to watch the GCU Men’s Volleyball team practice.  Pretty cool!

8:55 AM  Team has just finished up breakfast and now getting a little study time in before a 10:45 departure to the gym.  I got up at 6:00 again and walked a little bit & planned and reviewed a few notes before going down to breakfast early.  Several players were down in the breakfast room studying already or reviewing film.  Listening to conversations at breakfast gives me a good feeling about today.  I feel like the entire club is really well prepared for Utah Valley and I'm excited to see if we can execute on the floor today.  The rest of the way, our schedule today is pretty much the same as yesterday.


10:04 PM   I’ll call it a day now.  Unfortunately, we’ve got a few noisy guys out in the hall of the hotel.  Hopefully our gals are all asleep and not being kept up by it all.  Tomorrow is a new day and a new chance to compete at a high level - a level I know we are capable of.

8:44 PM Team dismissed for the evening after Assistant Coach Evan Amstutz took the team through film and personnel discussions regarding Utah Valley.  The club will be on the same "clock" in terms of schedules for key events tomorrow as we were today.  Players all returned to their rooms for the evening.  I'll stay up a bit.  I usually do.  One more interview to process and I'll review Utah Valley stats a time or two.

8:05  Team starting to gather again in meeting room for last activity of the day which is final film and discussion about Utah Valley - tomorrow’s opponent.  Coaches have been strategizing and I finished watching Grand Canyon sweep Sam Houston.   Not the best of days for the Southwest Division on the court today.

7:15  Grand Canyon takes a two set lead on Sam Houston so the gals are dismissed to go shower and briefly rest before film later this evening 

6:52  Team grabbed dinner on the way back to hotel and gathering in the meeting room to watch a little bit of Sam Houston and Grand Canyon 

4:55 Not the outcome we wanted.  But we came here to play three so we’ve got to focus on getting 2 W’s.  Club in locker room and will bus back to hotel to watch Sam Houston and Grand Canyon 

2:03 PM  After what seems like an eternity, all the other clubs have taken serve and pass (except Sam Houston, they didn't want to I guess).. and now, the 'Jacks are about to take the floor for our first match from the "Phoenix Pod"

12:34 PM  Pass and Serve done and Panera has arrived   So the gals will cool down a bit and then we’ll all have pre-match meal.

11:58  ‘Jacks on the floor for a little early pass and serve, but lunch should be here and it’s not.   There’s gonna be some hungry folks at 12:30 if the Panera Bread delivery doesn’t show soon!  Haha!

11:14 AM  SFA Volleyball arrives at GCU Arena   Serve and Pass at Noon and then a light lunch

6:26 AM  Alarm has gone off and I'm showered and ready for the day (I'm one of these people that has to shower IMMEDIATELY when he wakes up).  My final preparations for New Mexico St. concerning the broadcast have begun and the crew will meet up in another hour and a half for breakfast.


8:48 PM  The halls of the hotel are quiet and everyone is tired from a full day of travels and practice and great food.  While, "technically" it is not even 9 PM, on Texas time it is almost 11:00 - which is when I usually go to bed.  So, that's a wrap for "travel day".  I'll get up early to finish my radio preparations for New Mexico State and then have breakfast with the team.  Make sure you listen to the match live right here at the blog on SFA VolleyBlog Radio.

7:55 PM  Back at the hotel for the night   It feels like it is the middle of the night to me.   Very active day.   It’s awesome to see these gals interact with each other because you can tell they genuinely like each other   The Party Bus was a huge hit and everyone looked sharp at practice.. Tomorrow we need to show this side of the WAC what SFA Volleyball is all about!

6:53  After taking a VERY long time to actually get the Party Bus out of the campus and A LOT of singing by the players on the way, we finally made our way to The Beach House for some tacos and burritos 

4:32 PM On the floor   Jacks starting practice from the GCU Arena.  We’re scheduled for a 90 minute practice 

3:08 PM  Checked into hotel after several hours at the mall.   Just putting things in rooms and then quickly turning around in a few minutes to bus to practice 

12:25 PM  After eating lunch at Modern Market in Scottsdale, the 'Jacks just took a short jaunt across the street to a large Scottsdale Mall for a shopping break.  After walking off lunch and killing time here, we'll bus, oh.. excuse me... party bus.. over to Grand Canyon University Arena for afternoon practice.

10:36  PARTY BUS   ‘Nuff said  

10:17 AM  The club has all its bags.  all baggage arrived safely and we now await our transportation to eat and hotel. WE ARE HERE

9:35 local time AM:   On the ground in Phoenix!!  AxeEm!!

7:35  Made it through check in and security and everyone making their way to the gate.   Several folks hustled and got control of the kiosks and expedited all of us checking in   And, of course.. our gate… Gate 19 was the farthest from the security gate   So, after the walk everyone is grabbing some breakfast from a local eatery along the concourse   

5:25 AM.  Up and at 'em.  Would it surprise you that my roomie, Assistant Coach Evan Amstutz has already been up for a while continuing to prepare for matches, getting his coffee fix and starting his day?  Not if you know him even in the least!  Dude is super prepared!  Alarm went off a little while ago for me and it's time to wake up with a nice hot shower and get this long and adventurous day started.  Gotta get to the airport in the next hour or so.


11:15 PM.  At the hotel in Dallas.  Pulled in and everyone got their room keys efficiently and is ready for sleep.  We won't see much of this hotel with our eyes open.  We bus to the airport at 6:30 AM tomorrow morning.

8:18 PM Bus glitch resolved and we're off.  Payton Cerny and Kennedy Wright chat done on the bus as we left Nacogdoches.  Gonna be a quick "to-bed" and "wake-up" turn around to be ready for flight tomorrow.

7:44 PM  Departure pushed back   All waiting in parking lot for bus…. But… no bus  

6:25 PM  Departure pushed back to 7:30.  That gives me a chance to breathe coming out of class a bit  

4:16 PM  COVID testing done   Now to do my real job here before we head out   Yes, I teach a class that meets at 5:00 on Tuesday!  After that, a change back into more relaxed attire, grab some grub and let’s get this jaunt out West started  

10:14 AM:  Ok, I think I am all packed up.  Guys travel light on trips like this.  I've got my team issued Under Armor athletic bag and it's got all my clothes in it and then there's the backpack and computer bag I always take to the gym.  That's it.  I'll be interested to see how many bags the gals bring on this trip.  I'm a pretty light packer as it is & I don't like lugging a massive amount of stuff through airports, so I'm staying with the normal "three-piece" that I typically take on these trips.  Next step:  Gotta COVID test this afternoon to be cleared for travel.  Been planning the "Everyone Gets Interviewed Series" in my head.. I think I'm gonna start with Payton Cerny this afternoon.