By Patrick Anglin, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - "There's a lot of sleeping."
Those were the exact words of junior defenseman Kelsey Crow when asked about what happens on road weekends. The same exact statement was also uttered by head coach Jeff Kampersal and sophomore goalie Daniel Paniccia. This isn't surprising, as traveling across the country and playing a physical sport like the game of hockey can be extremely draining. However, there is more to the four-day expedition that is a road-weekend than just sleeping.
The team's journey begins early on Thursday morning for a Friday-Saturday series, when they meet at the team's home Pegula Ice Arena, and load all of their belonging and equipment onto a team bus. The ride can be a breeze or drag on for hours, but it serves as the perfect time for players to bond with one another. The girls like to play all different types of games and activities to pass the time.
"'Heads Up', the phone game," Paniccia said. "We love to play that."
"Heads Up" is an app game in which one player holds the phone on their forehead so that they cannot see the word or phrase, and other players yell out hints to help them guess. The game is a favorite on the team, but they also find other ways to pass the time while showcasing their many talents.
"Sometimes we also do karaoke and stuff. We get to hear some beautiful voices," Paniccia said with a smile and laugh.
"There's different sections of the bus, I'm usually in the back," Crow added. "We're the annoying, loud bunch."
Once arriving at their destination, the team checks into the hotel where they will be staying for the weekend. By the time they finally settled in, everyone is usually stiff and worn down from the bus ride, so they usually spend that night relaxing.
"We try to have them live as normal as possible," Kampersal said. "Get there, wind down, sometimes watch a movie. On most trips, I try to work out."
Kampersal isn't new to road weekends in hockey, but it is his first season with Penn State, after spending 21 seasons coaching the Princeton Tigers prior to joining the Nittany Lions. He is still adjusting to traveling and bonding with a completely new team.
"Going out in blue and white is still a very surreal thing for me," Kampersal said. "But once the puck drops, there is a game to be won. I look forward to making memories with these girls."
One of the perks of competing against teams across the country is being able to see the various host cities. So far this season the team has been to Minnesota, and is headed to Massachusetts this weekend. During the weekend, the players have some free time upon arrival and between games to explore the host cities.
"It's nice seeing different places," Paniccia said. "Boston for example, is really cool. It's a really nice city, one of my favorites. It's so fun to travel."
Other players find joy in road trips in other things, such as the opponents that await them.
"I really like it because I get so bored playing the same people," Crow said. "Different teams have different styles. We get to play a lot of good out of conference teams on our trips."
The team enjoys the perks of being student-athletes and having the opportunity to travel and represent the Blue and White, but they also point out that it comes with some drawbacks.
"It is so hard when we leave Thursday mornings, that's two days of classes we miss," Crow said, a junior psychology student. "I'm starting my 400 level classes and it is really important to get ahead, go see TA's and go to office hours."
As most Penn State students come to learn, as involvement and responsibilities grow, finding time to complete schoolwork can be quite difficult. However, the team prides itself on its ability to excel both on and off the ice working hard to master personal organizational skills that will benefit them now and moving forwards into the future.
"You definitely have to manage your time well when a road trip is coming up" Paniccia said. "You have to stay on top of your work."
Of course, with academic advisors and a staff to help them, road weekends aren't a challenge for these hard-working women.