Road Trip Tips For Dukes Driving To The FCS Championship In Frisco, TX

Road Trip Tips For Dukes Driving To The FCS Championship In Frisco, TX

The James Madison University football team is headed to the FCS Championship game in Frisco, Texas for the SECOND consecutive year.
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For those who've been living under a rock for the past semester, the James Madison University football team is headed, for the SECOND consecutive time, to the FCS Championship game in Frisco, Texas after an undefeated season. On January 6, 2018, the Dukes of JMU will be going head to head against North Dakota State in a battle for the title.

Our fans are so dedicated that Toyota Stadium had to ban the time-honored tradition of throwing streamers. I attended the 2017 FCS Championship game, and I can testify that there was no shortage of streamers and that we all were enthusiastically throwing them for every touchdown. Fans aren’t exactly thrilled with this new rule but you can bet that school spirit will still be at an all-time high this coming Saturday.

For those who aren't making the voyage down to Frisco, make sure you tune into the game! Whether you're watching it on the TV in the comfort of your home, keeping up with social media or listening to it via the radio, this is the Championship Game and you do NOT want to miss out!! This season has been one of the best and we should all ring in the second semester by cheering on the team in one final showdown!

As someone who’s made the trip down to Frisco, here are a few tips for the Dukes who are making the trip this year…

1. If you’re driving, pack snacks and blankets

Because you will get hungry and you will get cold. Last year, we hit a mini snow storm and you never know if your car will break down or if your heat won’t work.

2. BRING WARM CLOTHES!!!

Especially with this cold spell that the United States is experiencing, GameDay will be absolutely freezing! Gloves, hats, double up on socks, layering, etc. Your body will thank you later.

3. Another tip for the Driving Dukes: Drink caffeine and trade driving shifts!

What my car of five did was traded off on who was navigating and driving and who was just recharging in the back. Again, your body will thank you later.

4. Bring cash just in case

You never know when you're going to need it!

5. Bring one bag because you don't want to accidentally lose a bag

That being said, don't overpack! It's most likely just a weekend trip so be wary of what you're bringing.

6. Don't forget your IDs!

If you want to drink, pick up your tickets, check into the hotel, you will need your ID!

So get ready for one final GameDay, Dukes! Whether you're there in person or in spirit, it's time to show the world that the JMU Dukes not only have the best football team but the best school spirit!

Cover Image Credit: Maddy Whitfield

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To The Coach Who Ruined The Game For Me

We can't blame you completely, but no one has ever stood up to you before.
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I know you never gave it a second thought, the idea that you're the reason I and many others, never went any farther in our athletic careers.

I know you didn't sincerely care about our mental health, as long as we were physically healthy and our bodies were working enough to play. It's obvious your calling wasn't coaching and you weren't meant to work with young adults, some who look to you as a parent figure or a confidant.

I also know that if we were to express our concerns about the empty feeling we began to feel when we stepped onto the court, you wouldn't have taken the conversation seriously because it wasn't your problem.

I know we can't blame you completely, no one has ever stood up to you before. No one said anything when girls would spend their time in the locker room crying because of something that was said or when half the team considered quitting because it was just too much.

We can't get mad at the obvious favoritism because that's how sports are played.

Politics plays a huge role and if you want playing time, you have to know who to befriend. We CAN get mad at the obvious mistreatment, the empty threats, the verbal abuse, “It's not what you say, its how you say it."

We can get mad because a sport that we loved so deeply and had such passion for, was taken away from us single-handedly by an adult who does not care. I know a paycheck meant more to you than our wellbeing, and I know in a few years you probably won't even remember who we are, but we will always remember.

We will remember how excited we used to get on game days and how passionate we were when we played. How we wanted to continue on with our athletic careers to the next level when playing was actually fun. We will also always remember the sly remarks, the obvious dislike from the one person who was supposed to support and encourage us.

We will always remember the day things began to change and our love for the game started to fade.

I hope that one day, for the sake of the young athletes who still have a passion for what they do, you change.

I hope those same athletes walk into practice excited for the day, to get better and improve, instead of walking in with anxiety and worrying about how much trouble they would get into that day. I hope those athletes play their game and don't hold back when doing it, instead of playing safe, too afraid to get pulled and benched the rest of the season.

I hope they form an incredible bond with you, the kind of bond they tell their future children about, “That's the coach who made a difference for me when I was growing up, she's the reason I continued to play."

I don't blame you for everything that happened, we all made choices. I just hope that one day, you realize that what you're doing isn't working. I hope you realize that before any more athletes get to the point of hating the game they once loved.

To the coach that ruined the game for me, I hope you change.

Cover Image Credit: Author's photo

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I Wouldn't Trade My DII Experience To Play DI Athletics Any Day

I'm thankful that I didn't go DI because I wouldn't have had the best four-year experience as a college athlete.

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As a high school athlete, the only goal is to play your varsity sport at the Division 1 level in college.

No one in high school talks about going to a Division 2 or 3 school, it's as if the only chance you have at playing college athletics is at the DI level. However, there are so many amazing opportunities to play a varsity sport at the DII and DIII level that are equally fun and competitive as playing for a division 1 team.

As a college athlete at the DII level, I hear so many DI athletes wishing they had played at the DII or DIII level. Because the fact of the matter is this: the division you play in really doesn't matter.

The problem is that DII and DIII sports aren't as celebrated as Division 1 athletics. You don't see the National Championships of Division 2 and 3 teams being broadcasted or followed by the entire country. It's sad because the highest levels of competition at the DII and DIII level are competing against some of the Division 1 teams widely celebrated across the country. Yet DII and DIII teams don't receive the recognition that DI athletics do.

Not everyone can be a DI athlete but that doesn't mean it's easy to be a DII or DIII athlete. The competition is just as tough as it is at the top for DII and DIII athletes. Maybe the stakes are higher for these athletes because they have to prove they are just as good as DI athletes. Division 2 and 3 athletes have just as much grit and determination as Division 1 athletes, without the glorified title of being "a division 1 athlete."

Also, playing at the DII or DIII level grants more opportunities to make your college experience your own, not your coach's.

I have heard countless horror stories in athletics over the course of my four-year journey however, the most heartbreaking come from athletes who lose their drive to compete because of the increased pressure from coaches or program. Division 1 athletics are historically tougher programs than Division 2 or 3 programs, making an athlete's college experience from one division to another significantly different.

The best part of not going to a division 1 school is knowing that even though my team doesn't have "DI" attached to it, we still have the opportunity to do something unique every time we arrive at an event. Just because we aren't "DI" athletes, we still have the drive and competitive spirit to go to an event and win. We are great players, and we have broken countless records as a team.

That's something we all have done together, and it's something we can take with us for the rest of our lives.

We each have our own mission when it comes to our college athletic careers, however together we prove to be resilient in the fight for the title. Giving it all when we practice and play is important, but the memories we have made behind the scenes as a team makes it all worth it, too.

The best part of being apart of college athletics is being able to be passionate about your sport with teammates that embody that same mindset. It's an added benefit to having teammates who become your best friends because it makes your victories even more victorious, and your defeats easier to bare.

No matter what level an athlete is playing at in college, it's important that all the hours spent at practice and on the road should be enjoyed with teammates that make the ride worthwhile. The experiences athletes have at any level are going to vary, but the teammates I have and the success we've had together is something I cherish and will take with me forever. I'm thankful that I didn't go DI because I wouldn't have had the best four-year experience as a college athlete.

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