By Brandon Martin '13
WINCHESTER, Va. - It is not uncommon for student-athletes to travel great distances to attend school. However, the adjustment to different time zones, environments and the simple reality that no one is there to do your laundry for you can either make or break you.
Most young adults yearn for the opportunity to have independence until they actually have to leave home for the first time. Leaving home is never an effortless task and it is made undeniably more difficult when the trip to school is over 2,000 miles in length.
Shenandoah University has several student-athletes who make this long journey - members of the Hornets "All-Airport Team". Sydney Anderson (women's lacrosse), Brittany Butcher (women's soccer), and Ross Heyl (men's basketball) are three student-athletes that nearly always feature a plane flight as part of their travel schedule.
Anderson, a junior attack wing from Grandview High School in Aurora, Colorado, traveled all the way to the east coast to experience the intense lacrosse tradition and competition. "Lacrosse programs are a lot better on the east coast," Anderson said.
This past spring, Anderson started 15 of 18 games for the women's lacrosse squad that won a program record 13 games on its way to an appearance in the USA South Conference Tournament.
Anderson had a fourth-best-on-team 14 assists on her way to a 29-point campaign.
Butcher, a sophomore midfielder from Cactus Shadows High School in Cave Creek, Arizona, found Shenandoah as part of her search for a top-quality physical therapy program. "I'm originally from New York. I enjoy the east coast. I figured either you go big or you go home. And if I don't like it I can go back," Butcher said.
Butcher, who along with Anderson are co-Presidents of the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee, played in all 18 games this past season and helped contribute to a USA South Championship for the women's soccer team.
Heyl, a freshman guard from Saguaro High School in Scottsdale, Arizona, found his way to Shenandoah due to persistent recruiting from head coach Rob Pryor. "He came all the way out from Virginia to watch me play and he really seemed like he wanted me to come out and play for him," said Heyl.
Heyl played in every game this past season, starting the final 18 and averaged 6.9 points and 1.6 rebounds per outing.
All three student-athletes expressed concern about missing their families. "I don't have my parents around so I have to learn super fast how to do things on my own," Heyl said. "When you are so far away from home you are forced to grow up and learn how to get things done by yourself, which makes you more independent."
Butcher agreed with her fellow Grand Canyon State native, saying, "I've learned new things about myself that I probably wouldn't even of been able to find out otherwise."
Even though these players might not be able to run home for a quick home-cooked meal, they are not without support. They all rely on their teammates and their families.
"Being on the team makes it a lot easier because they make you feel like your part of a family," said Anderson. "I am definitely closer to them for this reason and it makes being so far away that much easier."