It is rarely mentioned, but the distance away from home students, and especially student-athletes, travel to go to school can be very overwhelming sometimes. That’s why it was great to travel to Baltimore, Maryland to play Johns Hopkins over Easter break. To our surprise, there were almost more Gator fans in the stands than there were Hopkins supporters, because a lot of our team is from Maryland.  After giving our fans an intense and entertaining sudden-death victory game, we had a huge celebration with all of our family and friends.  With 13 of us from Maryland, our coaches then allowed us to be released after the game so we could go home for the night and spend Easter Sunday with our families.  Some teammates originating from New Jersey and New York also took advantage of being released, even though they had to travel a little farther to get home.  We did, however, have to report back to Gainesville in time for practice Monday afternoon, but being home even if for just the holiday, was definitely worth it.

A few of the girls spoke of their home stays as Hayley Katzenberger enjoyed her mom’s gourmet cooking, Kayla Stolins loved playing with her dog Sparky and Rachel Smith anxiously hoped her sister would go into labor while she was in Maryland for the night.  Unfortunately, Rachel was back in Gainesville when her sister went to the hospital to deliver, but she is now the proud aunt of a little baby boy named Landon.  However, being home with family and friends was special, and a great break during tough season competition.

Being home was also awesome because we got to do things that you can only do in Maryland, and can’t be replicated anywhere else.  For example, I ate Maryland crabs on the porch with my friends from high school on Saturday night.  You can only pick and eat good blue crabs in Maryland, so I took full advantage of my 24 hours home.  Other teammates visited their favorite local restaurants and convenience stores only found in Baltimore, enjoyed snowballs and crab chips (exclusive to the Northeast), and watched the Orioles play on T.V. during opening weekend.

The 13 of us who are proud to call Maryland home love the traditions and customs that we’ve been raised around.  It’s fun for us to share our Baltimore backgrounds with the rest of the team, as they share some of their own traditions from other parts of the country with us.  Most notably, Caroline Chesterman comes from New York and has introduced our team to the most authentic “New York” pizza places in Gainesville.  Everyone’s upbringing through simple examples such as these contributes to the uniqueness of our team, creating eye rolls, laughs, shaking heads, and memories.  However, I think the 13 of us will agree that Maryland may have the best traditions, and it was great to be home in our state this Easter.