Road trips not for the faint of heart

With many teams, in many sports, something happens on the road. Great teams seem to know how to overcome it, but for many teams hitting the road is a struggle.

It has been this way for the baseball team.

After beginning the season playing 21 games away from home, the baseball team finally played a game at home.

The long road before playing at home started in California and ended in Washington before the Wolverines played host to Utah and lost in their first home game.

It’s the kind of road trip that puts a team in a hole from the beginning. It’s what happened with the Wolverines as they started the year 4-16-1.

Unfortunately, the team will have to get used to the travel if they want to succeed. The problem doesn’t get any better the rest of the season.  If you blink you will miss every home game-there’s only 11. The other 44 games are on the road- meaning only a fifth of the schedule is played here at home.

That’s a shame with the beautiful stadium sitting on the southwest corner of campus-at least the Orem Owlz make good use of it in the summer.

It’s comparable to the Utah Jazz playing 16 home games compared to 66 games on the road or a Major League Baseball team playing 130 road games with 32 at home. It’s a major disadvantage.

It’s part of the growing process of becoming a fully-fledged Division I athletics program. And while the difficulties are magnified with the baseball team’s schedule, other sports have to overcome the road during this transition period also.

The softball team is in the same boat with 18 home games compared to over 30 on the road. Men’s basketball played 17 games out of 29 away from the McKay Center.

For the women’s basketball team 12 of 28 games were at home. For the women’s soccer team only a third of its games were at on its own pitch. The women’s volleyball team played 18 of 31 matches away from the Shurian Activity Center. In those six sports combined, just 34 percent of their games are here at Utah Valley.

It’s worse for baseball and softball because play begins in February-not usually suitable weather for playing sports outside in Utah.

For some of the teams it will get better next year, for others they might have to wait until a conference comes calling. And for baseball and softball they might have to wait until the ozone is more depleted.

The men’s basketball team will get a lot of return games next year, which will reverse its home-away ratio. But the baseball and the softball teams will still be traveling for a majority of their games, especially early in their respective seasons.

With next year being the last year Utah Valley will be considered a provisional Division I school, conferences will be more attracted knowing the school made the cut.

For the majority of sports here there’s little satisfaction right now in beating fellow Independents with student body enrollments nearly 20,000 less than Utah Valley’s. But that’s a good thing.

Coaches aren’t satisfied with just winning. They want to compete with better competition, and they can.

One day Utah Valley will be playing basketball in late-March on national television.

Leave a Reply