With two kids in college now, our household population is down to three. And with Quinn not participating in a fall sport, this was looking like the lightest season we’ve had as sport parents in a long time.
Before Kristen picked her college, we knew she would probably be participating in cross country and would have a few meets somewhere this fall, and I figured we would be able to attend ‘some’ of those. Then she picked Southwest Minnesota State – a terrific school with a good athletic program – but not exactly in our back yard. Indeed, when she selected a college that was 300 miles away, the decision was not met with wild applause by many in her ‘fan club.’ But that’s a different story for a different day.
When the SMSU cross country schedule came out, Jennifer and I looked it over and I remarked that we should decide which meets we should attend. “I’m going to all of them,” she said. “All of them?” That didn’t seem practical. I’ve never been one to shy away from a good road trip, but some of these looked to be long hauls. The first meet was scheduled in Fargo – on a Friday. I’m a ‘map guy,’ but I wasn’t really sure how far away that was. When I looked it up, my back was still stiff from the drives up and back to Marshall to move Kristen – and Fargo is almost twice that far. Still, it was going to be her first college race ever, so I booked a room, reserved a vacation day at work, and made an appointment for the chiropractor.
One similarity of college and high school cross country schedules, it seems, is that they change a lot. Not long after we’d made the plans to go to Fargo, another meet was added in Sioux Falls, SD, a week before the Fargo race. Kristen had a new ‘first college meet’ and I made reservations right away. Then I called Jennifer and suggested that we didn’t need to go to Fargo anymore. “It’s so far away and it’s not her first meet anymore and…” She gasped and then I thought I heard the phone drop. I was worried that she had fainted. She recovered and said, “I don’t think I can miss it.”
I thought maybe I’d try to talk her out of it later, but I didn’t have to. Another schedule change. Thankfully, they dropped the Fargo meet and added one at St. Olaf College. I wasn’t sure where St. Olaf was, but I was pretty sure it wasn’t as close to Canada as Fargo is. When I saw that it was south of Minneapolis, that didn’t sound too bad, so I booked a hotel.
There are two meets in Minneapolis on the schedule. One is a well-known, traditional race that is one of the biggest meets in the country. The other is the conference championship meet. We couldn’t miss either one of those. Booked.
Then there is the NCAA D-II regional meet. “Good. That one’s in Missouri,” I thought. “Oh, wait, it’s in Joplin” – which is about as close to ‘not Missouri’ as you can get. But, we certainly can’t miss that. Booked.
That only left one more meet on the schedule to resolve – in St. Cloud. Again, I had to look it up. Northwest of Minneapolis – no problem. Vacation day and hotel – booked.
So my plan to go to ‘some’ of the meets evolved into Jennifer’s plan to go to ‘all’ of them. (Funny how that works.) If nothing changes and we do attend all the meets, it will add up to almost 3,500 miles of driving. And I used to think that drive to Bedford was bad.