Some of Kean University's spring sports teams escaped the cold Jersey weather this spring break and traveled to warmer states to take on different competition.
The baseball team traveled to Ontario, California where they faced six West Coast teams. They picked up wins in their opening and closing games against University of Redlands and Whittier College, respectively. The team lost to California Lutheran University, University of La Verne, Chapman University and Occidental College.
Junior criminal justice and out-fielder, Frank Urso commented on how the competition is much better on the West Coast due to the fact that they are able to play all year round in the warm weather.
"As a team we struggled coming out 2-3, but with a lot of younger kids I feel we will benefit from this trip," Urso said. "You can learn just as much, if not more, from a loss than a win."
Mike Occhi, pitcher and senior finance major and economics minor, agreed that the team benefited from the experience by traveling to play somewhere new and losing to strong teams, as it shows what the team needs to work on in order to be successful in the future.
"The competition in California is very good. This was my third trip out there and they seem to be getting better every time we go," Occhi said.
Urso and Occhi also added that besides competing, the team had the opportunity to enjoy Venice Beach, Hollywood and In-N-Out Burger.
"Hopefully the next trip we experience is regionals," Urso said. "Last year we ended up in Scranton, Pennsylvania. Hopefully we win regionals and go to Wisconsin for the College World Series."
The team currently stands with an overall record of 9-6 and will continue to compete against teams outside their conference until conference play begins in April.
The men's lacrosse team stayed in Wilmington, North Carolina over spring break while facing competition in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. The team beat Hilbert College 16-8.
"The team wasn't the best, but we played well; beat them comfortably," said Mark Marchino, attacker for the team and junior business management major. "We were able to get everyone to play so a bunch of freshmen got their first real game experience."
As per Marchino, the team also had the opportunity to tour the USS North Carolina and the University of North Carolina (UNC) Basketball Hall of Fame and Arena, practice at UNC and eat at Time Out, a restaurant that has been featured on "Man vs. Food."
Marchino also added that one of the major takeaways from the trip was the bonding experience.
"We spent so many hours on a bus and just being together, it was impossible not to get closer," Marchino said. "And it makes people hangout that usually don't because of how rooming was set up. Also it was a good win that we needed as a team."
As for the remainder of the season, the team has one more over-night trip to Vermont when they will compete against Castleton University in April. The team's current record lies at 2-3.
Junior psychology major and catcher Katie Garbarino of the softball team shared that the team spent spring break in Kissimmee, Florida where the team achieved a record of 9-1, advancing the team to an overall record of 11-1.
With the winning record, the team has advanced to a ranking of number 25 in the nation.
The team was separated in half among two houses, where Garbarino said the team was able to hang out by the pool when they were not competing.
"The houses had air hockey, pool, darts and Foosball, so I would say we were pretty preoccupied in the off time," said outfielder Emily Bissonnette, a senior psychology pre-occupational therapy major with a minor in health. "We had two days where we spent one at Universal Studios and the other off day doing whatever you pleased."
Garbarino added that the trip was beneficial specifically because it allowed the team to continue playing and practicing their skills even with the wintry weather.
"Practicing inside can be difficult for our sport and our home field is covered in snow," Garbarino said.
Besides traveling to play some teams located farther away, there are no other major trips planned for the remainder of the softball season.
"The next time we look to have possible sleep away trips are for the NJAC Tournament and the Regional Tournament, but those trips are never guaranteed; we have to earn our spot there first," Garbarino added.
The women's lacrosse team traveled to Punta Gorda, Florida, where the team participated in a Spring Fling Tournament in Port Charlotte.
Junior therapeutic recreation major and defensive player Giulia Vitolo shared that besides competing, the team had opportunities to enjoy the beach, biking along the water, Fisherman's Village, the pool and a marina where some players chose to go fishing.
As per Vitolo, the team faced a variety of competition, which started the season on a positive note.
"Our last game in the tournament was the best competition we have seen so far in our season," Vitolo said. "It was a reality check for us and even though we started off the first half a little bumpy, we were able to come out with a win."
Vitolo went on to explain that the team not only benefited from playing different teams but the experience lead the team to becoming closer.
Although the women's lacrosse team does not have any more trips scheduled for the remainder of the season, the team does do community service and team events.
"Right before we left for spring break we went to Springfield for our Habitat for Humanity project, and we will be traveling to the Unified Sports Shriver Cup in Princeton in a few weeks to volunteer for athletes with special needs," Vitolo said.
The Cougars will also be participating in a walk for colon cancer in Philadelphia.
The team stands at a record of 5-1.
The men's volleyball team did not travel during spring break this year. In past years the team has traveled to Florida and Wisconsin during the break. The team currently stands at a record of 14-7. Conference play began Sunday, March 19, 2017 with wins over Sarah Lawrence University and Yeshiva University.