Blogging with the boys: Inside Mizzou Lacrosse’s road trip

Matt Needham (#7) prepares for game against MO State

Over the course of the next three days, Mizzou Lacrosse will be live-blogging their road trip to Florida and Atlanta. Stay tuned throughout the weekend for updates on the team’s road trip.

Thursday February 25

2:05 p.m. 

Hello there. We’re excited to have the opportunity to blog during this road trip. It’s just past two in the afternoon, and we’re all getting on the bus to head down to Tallahasse, Florida for our game against Florida State tomorrow. It’s going to be a long day, but we’re excited to get on the road for our first team bus trip of the season. Driving us down to Florida is the one and only Barry from USA Tours. For those new to the Mizzou Lacrosse community, Barry has been our team bus driver for almost every away game the past five seasons and is family to us. He’s a great guy and extremely funny, and we’re all super-excited he’s going to be heading on this trip with us.

7:30 p.m. 

We all just finished dinner at Lambert’s Cafe in Sikeston for some good southern cooking before heading to the South. Lambert’s is home to the “throwed rolls”, where literally the waiters throw hot rolls across the restaurant to people at tables. The guys on the team really enjoyed this unique restaurant experience, and we’re pretty stuffed for the road…hopefully we can sleep easier now.

11:15 p.m. 

It’s karaoke time! A tradition for the first road trip of every season is the seniors on the team pick songs for players to sing karaoke to. This is always a great and hilarious time and something that brings us closer together as a team. Freshman Grant Long won with his rendition of “I Want it that Way”, taking away the title from junior Marcus Jones, who won the past two years with his rendition of the Pokemon theme song. Currently four hours from Birmingham, so hopefully we get to the hotel on time.

Friday February 26 

3:00 a.m. 

We’re at the hotel finally. It’s a Microtel Inn & Suites and is gorgeous (way nicer than some of the places we’ve stayed at in the past). Shout out to our travel chair Abel Rios for hooking us up in Birmingham.

9:00 a.m. 

Back on the bus and heading to Tallahassee. We’re supposed to arrive around 4 ET so we should have some time to explore Tallahassee before our game. Florida State is the first MCLA Top 25 team we’ve played in a few years, so we’re all getting pretty hyped on the bus.

5:45 p.m. 

Hit some traffic and didn’t plan for the time change so we’re just getting onto FSU’s campus. Their lacrosse field looks beautiful and is in the center of their campus, right next to their football and baseball stadiums and the FSU Circus (yes, FSU has a circus on campus and students can take a class in “circus skills”). The weather is around 50 outside, but it’s so nice to be in Florida and not dealing with February weather in the Show-Me State.

9:30 p.m. 

Tough loss against the Seminoles tonight. We looked good early on in the game, especially during our first possession, but they were a lot to handle. Nice to see what it takes to be a Top 25 program consistently. While they were better than us, we could definitely hang with them, and it shows we’re close to being at their level as a program. We’re now heading to Macon, GA to spend the night before going to Cumming, Georgia for our game against NC State tomorrow.

Saturday February 27 

4:00 a.m. 

Got in to the hotel a lot later than expected. Need to get up in five hours to head to ATL for our game later today.

9:30 a.m. 

On the road and off to Georgia. People are a little tired but excited for our game in five hours.

12:15 p.m. 

Barry made great time on the roads and we got into Cumming, GA an hour earlier than expected. Our games in Georgia are both at North Forsyth High School and the facility is beautiful. They have a gorgeous turf field and lockers for us. NC State isn’t at the field yet but they should be here soon.

5:00 p.m. 

Another loss, but a terrific effort by everyone on the team. We were definitely as good as them and we’re really close to getting the pieces together and beating these tough SELC teams. We won the fourth quarter which is progress for us and tomorrow’s game against Central Florida should be exciting. Turns out our game today was the premier game of the lacrosse shootout held at North Forsyth High School, with local high schools and youth teams playing after us. There was a good crowd of people from the area at our game to watch college lacrosse and it was cool to play in front of fans that treated us as if we were on Duke or Denver. North Forsyth had shirts made up for the event with the three university’s logos on them, and announcers called out players names throughout the game which was really cool. There was also a youth clinic for local players that UCF ran and North Forsyth held a BBQ with all proceeds going towards the Wounded Warrior Project. We came in to this game thinking we were just playing at a local high school, but this experience made the trip so much better for everyone on the team and all fans at the game.

11:00 p.m. 

Turns out Cumming, Georgia isn’t extremely close to Atlanta, so instead of going downtown, a bunch of guys on the team did the next best option…went to play lazer tag and bowling. Though the walk there and back was interesting (imagine seeing a large group of people walking along the sidewalk of a busy road at night), everybody that went had a great time, and it was a great way to kick back and bond with teammates off the field. Events like these help bring our program closer together and helps create the family atmosphere we pride ourselves on at Mizzou Lacrosse.

Sunday February 28 

9:00 a.m. 

We’re up and ready for our game against Central Florida this morning. Should be a close game, and we’re all hoping to get a win to end this road trip.

1:30 p.m. 

Lost to Central Florida, but great team effort by the entire squad. We scored first and were tied at one after the first quarter, but then penalties and the fact it was our third game in 40 hours affected our play. Though the score may appear to be a blow-out, it wasn’t and we fought hard until the end. The game seemed close the whole time and it had the feeling of a GRLC playoff game. Our team is definitely making improvements and we’re in a lot better shape as a program than we were before we left for this trip. While we may have lost all three games, we’re not defeated and the team morale is pretty high. Last season, after our trip to New Orleans and our upset-loss against Houston, this wasn’t true, and it’s clear this team is in a lot better position at this point in the season than we were last year at the end of February. Now we’re starting the 10-13 hour trek to Columbia. Also, huge shout-out to our goalie Matt Needham. He stood on his head and had a ridiculous 21 saves today. These numbers are extremely-rare for a goalie and this is why he’s one of the best goaltenders in the Midwest. Also congrats to freshman Grant Long who scored three goals in his first three games with Mizzou.

5:00 p.m. 

We’re in Chattanooga, TN and we decided to make a pit stop so Barry could make a surprise visit to his family’s home and see his mom and his 102-year old grandmother. As we’ve said before, Mizzou Lacrosse is a family environment, and this is just one of the ways we follow this philosophy. Barry’s family is definitely shocked we came, and we’re happy we could help out our bus driver that’s done so much for us.

Barry's family home in Chattanooga, TN
Barry’s family home in Chattanooga, TN

10:00 p.m. 

The best way to end a road trip? How about a coaches jam session?

We’ll get to that in a little bit…as a little treat for the team, the coaches decided to have us stop in Nashville for dinner. Many guys on the team have never been to the country music capital and were excited at the opportunity. After checking out the Predators arena, the team went to Rippy’s, a famous restaurant located on legendary Broadway in Nashville. While enjoying some awesome Tennessee BBQ, we got to listen to some live country music which was awesome. In typical Mizzou lacrosse fashion, one of our players got talking with the drummer, and right before we left the coaches (you heard that right!) were called on stage to play a song. With Head Coach Clayton Melrose on drums, Coach Kyle Bader on bass and Coach Hatton Taylor on guitar, the coaches took the stage with the restaurant staff thinking they’d make fools of themselves. What nobody except us knew is our assistant coach, Hatton Taylor, is a classical guitar performance major. After a few seconds of playing the hit “Sweet Home Alabama”, people realized Coach Hatton was legit, and pandemonium in the restaurant ensued for the next three and a half minutes. Afterwards the crowd went insane, and our coaches received a standing-ovation from the house band. This was the perfect way to end our trip before going onto a seven-hour bus back to Columbia.

The boys in Nashville
The boys in Nashville