By Erica Huculak
My name is Erica Huculak and I play for the Ryerson Rams Varsity Women’s Soccer team — sort of.
See, I’m a new transfer student from Carleton University, and thanks to an OUA rule that requires transfer students to sit out of all competition for a full year, I am only allowed to train and practice with the team. The rule is in place to prevent athletes from switching schools on a yearly basis and protect smaller schools against stacked teams.
Sure, I’m technically a Ryerson athlete, but much of the time I feel like I’m being victimized by the rule, not protected by it. It hurts to train hard but be forced to watch from the sidelines, but I’ve learned to enjoy the little things, like our team road trips.
Playing in the OUA involves travelling to different schools in your conference to compete against them. What exactly happens on our road trips, you ask? Conveniently enough, I kept a road diary of our past weekend in Ottawa, documenting our every move from beginning to end. Here’s the inside scoop.
Gerrard St. was flooded with a sea of blue on Friday afternoon as we, along with the men’s team, loaded our gear onto two separate coach buses and prepared to take off for Ottawa.
Our five-hour trip started off with a season of Glee. I had never watched an episode before, but now I’m hooked! Our next stop was Kingston, which meant one thing: Bulk Barn. I don’t quite understand the team’s obsession with the bulk food store, but it certainly satisfied our junk-food cravings.
It was a relief to finally arrive in Ottawa, as the long bus ride was taking a serious toll on our bodies. After we dropped off our bags, we headed to captain Andrea Raso’s room for a team meeting. By the end of it we were all excited to hit the field the next day.
After finishing the night with an episode of the reality phenomena that is Jersey Shore, we all went to bed laughing hysterically over the quote “It’s T-Shirt Time”. Don’t ask.
After breakfast and a light walk Saturday morning, we prepped ourselves to take on the Carleton Ravens with music blasting in the change room. Things settled down with a traditional pre-game chat from our coach and we felt ready for the game.
Unfortunately, even the best preparation doesn’t guarantee results, and we wound up losing 1-0. Everyone took the loss really hard: our normally high-energy team was the positivity mute after the game. After watching the men’s team tie the undefeated Carleton Ravens, we sombrely headed back to the bus.
We were lacking confidence, lacking positivity and didn’t believe we truly are the best team out there. But teammates Elyse Hanec, Kristin Horgan Smith and Kendra Welham each wrote letters to every player saying why they loved them as a player and a person. This gesture brought tears, smiles, and laughs that helped regain our confidence and brought us closer together as a family.
Those letters really turned the team around; Sunday’s game was one of the most exciting and passionate games I have seen us play all season. Though the final result was still a loss — 2-1 to the Ottawa University Gee-Gee’s — it didn’t feel like one because we played with such heart and were the victims of two unlucky bounces.
We didn’t see the 2-1 victory for the Gee-Gee’s as a loss, but more of a triumphant return of our confidence. After showering, cleaning up and loading our belongings onto the bus, we set off for home.
Team road trips are not so much about the games as they are about team building. We exited the bus late Sunday evening thankful for the time we had together.
I ended my night lying in bed thinking about how much fun then next road trip will be — even if I won’t be out there on the field.