Over spring break, Andover Softball traveled to Orlando, Florida for a pre-season spring trip. The trip served as both a means for competition between diverse schools from New Jersey, Connecticut, and Texas as well as for a relaxing and unifying getaway. Participating in both challenging matches as well as bonding activities such as visiting Universal Studios, the trip helped the team in the early stages of developing chemistry, as well as easing it into the long season ahead.
According to Maris Moody ’24, although most days were taxing and dedicated to either practice or games, the team still had time to relax and strengthen connections during evenings on their trip. Moody noted that their schedule was a great break from the demanding softball regiment.
Moody said, “From 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. we would practice, and then on certain days, we had games. Some days we even had doubleheaders, so we wouldn’t practice those days. Then we would go back to the resort and just kind of hang out. It was a really good team bonding experience. But our days mostly from morning to afternoon was playing softball.”
Fallon O’Connor ’23 shared a similar sentiment to Moody, emphasizing the crucial nature of the trip for improving and renewing a team bond. O’Connor specifically mentioned that without the trip last year, the team did not have the opportunity to get as close as they could. As a result, she noticed that this year is already shaping up to be different.
“I actually really thought that [the trip] brought the team together, especially playing last year during Covid-19 and we didn’t get the trip… Not that people didn’t get along last year, but I thought that we’re all closer and everyone’s closer together this year because of the trip,” said O’Connor.
Moody acknowledged that the team not only had the opportunity to face off against fierce competition, but also train alongside some very renowned and accomplished athletes. Nonetheless, Andover Softball was able to perform well, winning four out of its five games played.
“Our first game was with the [The] John Cooper School. We did kind of a training session with them beforehand with an Olympian who was teaching us things about running mechanics, stuff like that, and then we played them later that afternoon. We played them twice, on two separate days, and we beat them both times. And then Westminster [School] we played on March 15. We played them for the first time, and we won one game. And then the next day, we played them again, and we lost by five, I believe. Then we played Blair as our last game, and we “mercy-ed” both Blair and The John Cooper School,” said Moody.
The team trip revealed new sides of teammates, according to Lauren Mahoney ’23. She believed that this brought about a new sense of vulnerability within the team, once again strengthening the team bond.
Mahoney said, “One day…we got to do team karaoke. I would say that was the event that really got us together. It showed different sides of people that I’ve never seen before. Because we’re also concentrating on playing sports, coming together in these team bonding activities was something really special. As a team, we got to see each other’s strengths and weaknesses again, and work together to just create a team where we know that making mistakes is okay.”
Moody was struck by certain events and moments, as well and how open the team seemed to be with each other. Similarly to Mahoney, she recalled how many instances allowed for the team to understand one another more personally and intimately.
Moody said, “There was one specific night where everyone brought an object that told a story and we all went around. Some people brought necklaces from their grandparents, other people showed photos of them when they were younger, and even our coaches were showing things that were really important to them… Throughout the trip, we all definitely bonded. It was obviously a lot of quality time, but I feel in that specific moment, we all kind of had this heart to heart, tears were shed and smiles were shared.’”
With five games and many days of relationship building under its belt, Andover Softball looks toward the season with hope and confidence as it faces off against Methuen High School next Thursday.