Most college athletes can agree that it is never easy playing on somebody else’s stomping grounds.
Weber State University football players attest to that after playing three of their first four games of the season away from their home turf — Stewart Stadium.
After beating Portland State in the Annual Homecoming Game on Oct. 8, Weber State will continue to defend their undefeated conference record at home on Oct. 15 against Montana State.
“It’s definitely a relief to play at home,” junior punter Jacob DeMaio said. “There’s a little bit more comfort and almost a little bit more excitement to play at home.”
Players agree that they perform better on their home-field, in front of their fans.
“You’re always going to get your better advantage at home,” freshman safety Kevin Smith said.
So far, the team has played in three different arenas, including games in California and South Dakota.
All of that traveling can have adverse consequences for student-athletes.
“If you don’t set yourself up beforehand, you can miss an assignment or participation points,” DeMaio said. “That’s stuff you’ve got to get taken care of earlier in the week.”
Smith said that the work load doubles for student-athletes.
Aside from the academic issues, the act of traveling itself presents challenges for some athletes, like junior tight end Tui Satuala, — who gets motion sickness when spending a lot of time on a bus or plane.
“I get dizzy … I have to make sure I get rest the day before,” junior tight end Tui Satuala said. “It’s been an adjustment but I think I’m getting better about it.”
All three players concur that dealing with opposing fans can be difficult as well.
“Depending on different individuals, it’s kind of hard to perform well because the fans,” Smith said. “Some can get really hostile.”
The fans harass the players, sometimes even looking them up on their phones to make the jeers more personal.
“It’s hard but it teaches you how to keep your composure in life,” Smith said.
Smith, DeMaio and Satuala have found the positives from their early season experiences on the road — spending a lot of time traveling together has helped them unite as a team.
“The coaches make time where players are required to hang out with each other,” DeMaio said. “The night before a game we’ll have a movie play or an NFL or another college game playing so we just sit together and watch something.”
Smith compares the experience to a family vacation.
“We don’t go in our own separate hole,” Smith said. “It brings us closer together as a family, and as a team.”
Smith said that it is important to never take the traveling experience for granted.
“It’s a beautiful experience to go and see different areas,” Smith said. “Being able to travel and go see the world, which a lot of people don’t get a chance to do.”
Road games can be tough on any athlete —they can also be rewarding if viewed in a positive perspective.
The Wildcats next road game will be on Oct. 22, as they head to Cedar City to take on Southern Utah.