Jan. 17, 2013
MOSCOW - Steve Martin and the late John Candy would have been empathetic with the Louisiana Tech Lady Techster basketball team on Wednesday.
The two actors starred in the 1987 comedy film "Trains, Planes and Automobiles" about two men who met while trying to get home for Thanksgiving while encountering numerous travel issues during their three-day odyssey of misadventures. While traveling from New York to Chicago, the dynamic duo met challenge after challenge while using almost every mode of transportation possible to get to their respective destinations.
Although it didn't take Louisiana Tech three days, it did take Teresa Weatherspoon and Co. more than 19 hours from the time the team stepped on the bus in Ruston at 5 a.m. CT heading to the Monroe airport to the time they arrived in Moscow, Idaho at past 10 p.m. PT.
Travel in the Western Athletic Conference is not new for the Lady Techsters, but it is something that the University's student-athletes must overcome once league play begins in their respective seasons (one reason the school opted to make the move to a more geographically friendly Conference USA starting in July).
There is no short way to get from Ruston to Moscow, or vice versa (normally it takes Tech teams longer to get to Moscow than Honolulu, Hawaii). Even when travel goes as planned it is normally a 14- to 15-hour day. Throw in a little delay from the beginning and it goes from bad to worse (one reason both schools are probably glad they won't conference mates next year).
On Wednesday, the fun began when a scheduled 7 a.m. departure from the Monroe airport was boarded, then delayed, and then canceled due to the lack of functioning de-icers which were needed due to the winter weather that had blanketed north Louisiana during the past 48 hours. After the team and other passengers deboarded the plane, airport officials decided the plane could take off without being de-iced.
Following a more than four hour layover in the Mile High City, the Techsters - once again together - flew to Spokane, Washington where it landed after 8 p.m. PT. Seventeen hours down and only a two-hour bus ride remained for Weatherspoon and Co. as they pulled into the University Inn in Moscow after 10 p.m. PT ... more than 19 hours after it boarded the bus in Ruston.
At the end of "Trains, Planes and Automobiles", Martin and Candy - looking worn and battered - finally made it to Martin's home in Chicago as the duo walked up the street towards his house while toting suitcases and an oversized traveling trunk. But at least they had a home-cooked Thanksgiving meal waiting on them.
All the Lady Techsters - looking road weary - had waiting on them is a game against a red-hot Idaho Vandals basketball team which will be played ... ironically enough ... just over 19 hours after arriving in Moscow.