Red Towel Diaries are the writings of WKU's student-athletes about their feelings and observations before, during and after a game or road trip. A New Red Towel Diary will be posted about once each week by a different athlete in a different sport.
|Senior Conrad Davies|
(Franklin County H.S.)
Thursday, November 8
Sometimes I hate to get up early, but today wasn't that bad. Our trainer Crystal told me to go in for treatment on my back at 5:30 a.m., but try to get there early if I can. I got there at 5:25 a.m. I finished the treatment on my back almost falling asleep in the process. Those training tables are pretty comfortable. I usually take a nap each time I go.
On the bus. Everyone seemed tired. Of course they are going to be tired, it's 6 a.m. in the morning!! First, I wondered why we were up that early, but coach answered my question as he was telling us the schedule for the day using the bus' PA system. "We have a long trip ahead of us ... We'll stop in Paducah to get some breakfast. ... This afternoon we'll have a training session. This is a good time to get some shut-eye."
Sleep. It's not hard for me to get sleep on the bus, but for some people it is. As I looked down the aisle of the bus toward the restroom in the back, I saw legs strung across the aisle connecting two seats. Everyone was laid out. Ben Beurger always gets the very back row that has three seats connected to one another.
My technique is to take the seat that I am in and lean it back as far as it can go. I keep the seat next to me in it's upright position. I take my pillow and put it in the crevice of the two seats and lay my head against the pillow. Minutes later, I'm knocked out!!
Food. What I enjoy about our nine-hour journey are the frequent stops to eat. I shouldn't say frequent as they're much needed stops. It seems we stop at just the right time. This morning we ate at Cracker Barrel in Paducah. Lovely. That's all I can say.
Springfield, Mo. We arrived at the home of the SMS Bears and coach told us the time to meet on the bus in order to get to the field for our training session. He told us to wear all red. We arrived at the field and it's a place familiar to us, since we played here earlier in the year. It's a soccer complex that Kyle Wuchterl's relatives donated the money for. It must be an honor to have relatives like that. This complex is not small.
Well, we started the warm-up and did something a little different than before. Assistant coach Steve Brown conducted the warm-up. Then we broke off and did individual group work. I went in the corner of the field with five other guys (Casey Berger, Zach Mills, Brandon Thompson, Jay Michaelson, and Daniel Lopes) and we played a small-sided game amongst the six of us. It was fun and relaxing. At other places on the field everyone else was doing their own thing. Later coach has us break up into two teams. The teams were seniors versus everyone else. Coach gave us an ultimatum: if the seniors win, we go to Outback Steakhouse, if the underclassmen win, coach gives us $5 meal money. The underclassmen won on a shot by Scott Degaris. They cheated ... just joking. Well coach gave us another chance and this time we seniors were victorious with "Big Andy" Fertick putting away the game winner. Outback was good.
Friday, November 9
Game days are always relaxing. No one ever does a thing. Some sleep, like Big Andy, Tawanda and some others study, and like Justin Goodman, some just watch TV all day. We received a wake up call at 9:30 a.m. and had an option to eat the continental breakfast at the hotel or take the $5 breakfast meal money coach gave us and go elsewhere. I chose to eat the continental breakfast -- bagels, french toast, fruit and waffles. It was good. We had the choice of beverages, like apple juice (my favorite) or cranberry juice (the clean kidney stuff). I had a bagel, two pieces of french toast and some apple juice, and that was just fine for me. The conversation that morning wasn't too interesting to me, except the one about Chris Marcus's article in the USA Today newspaper and Wuchterl going to the a huge Bass Pro Shop to return, or exchange, some shoes. Once again, everyone seemed tired. In between meals is normally our rest time, and after breakfast everyone went their separate ways.
At 1 p.m. we had a meeting to talk about the game. It was more of an inspirational type meeting, in my opinion. We talked about the game plan but there was more motivation than organization. Coach put us in our place and told us what needed to be done to be victors that tonight. He told Steve Gardner and I that we had to have the biggest games tonight. He had to mark one of SMS's threats and I had to mark the other. He told us that the game may go to overtime and that we can't get frustrated if the things don't go our way. He was right.
Game time. Everyone was ready for this game. We 11 seniors knew that this could be the last game of our Western Kentucky career. Everyone was focused and pumped. It was almost as if we were bulls and we saw red. We attacked them the whole game, but we missed opportunity after opportunity. They couldn't handle us. Steve and I did the job that we were suppose to do. As a team we were waiting for that hero to put the ball in the back of the net and be the "big dawg," but it didn't happen. Just like coach said, we went to overtime, but it still didn't happen for us. Then Jamal Sutton, one of their key players, got in behind the defense, went one-on-one with our defender and put it in our net. Game over. No more Western soccer for this season. No more traveling. No more 11 seniors stepping on the field in a Western uniform. Lots of tears. Pain. Some joy from a successful game.
After the game, I stood at the corner post of the goal in which Sutton scored. It was sudden-death overtime and we couldn't redeem ourselves. We couldn't even the score. We couldn't play anymore. It was all over. I hear the crowd cheering in the background. I saw the SMS bench clearing and rushing Sutton. I sensed a heartbreak and devastation from everyone associated with Western. I felt like crying but it wouldn't come out. I thanked the Lord for the 16 years of soccer I've played. I praised Him for a wonderful but disappointing loss. It was really over.
I went back to the bench and got my stuff and headed for the bus. Silence. Tears. Anguish. No one said a word. I reminisced on all the wonderful plays I made on the field. I thought of how well we played. Why we didn't win? It had to be for a reason.
Going home. We left for Bowling Green 30 minutes after we returned to the hotel. Coach called in an order for us to get some food on the bus while we returned home. They gave us a sandwich and some vegetables with a bottled water. It was good. By this time everyone's morale was up a little bit. We watched the movie "Animal" before we went to sleep -- too funny. I laughed the whole time. It helped. We all tried to go to sleep. We had an overnight trip to be made. I adjusted my position in the seats, asked the Lord to watch over the bus driver as we traveled and went to sleep. All I remember is partially waking up when the driver stopped at a rest area and then when we pulled into Diddle Arena parking lot. I slept the whole time. We're finally home.