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NHS Softball Team at ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex

Suns Out, Bats Out!

Nutley Girls Varsity Softball Team Trains in Florida: A Day in the Life


On March 15, 2018, the Nutley girls varsity softball team flew for the 19th year to Florida for a week dedicated to spring training. They returned home on Wednesday, March 23, to their regular school day routine. The week in Florida was filled with games against teams from all from different states, individual practice sessions, and nights of fun and excitement in the Disney Parks.


There were 14 NHS students who went to Florida, along with the coaching staff. The head coach of the Nutley Raiders is Luann Zullo, and she is supported by the other two coaches, Michael DiPiano and Stephanie Ruffo. Every day in Florida consisted of a new activity or event.


Day One: Thursday, March 15th


Each member of the team had to be in the high school locker rooms at 7:30 a.m. for a quick bag check. After each suitcase and carry-on was checked, the school day was ready to begin.


At  2:00 p.m., the students left their fifth period class and returned back to the locker room to leave for the bus to the United Airlines Terminal at Newark Airport. After putting each piece of luggage on the bus, everyone was set. We arrived at the Newark Liberty International Airport after approximately 15 to 20 minutes, and each girl was given their boarding pass to enter onto the plane. Although, there is always time for a snack break. We were able to buy any type of food or beverage before getting onto the plane. After an hour or so, it was time for our flight. We boarded the plane, patiently waiting for takeoff. After some time, the plane began to move extremely fast. It gave majority of us a fright, but the plane then traveled smoothly through the sky. Most of the girls either listened to music, did homework, or read a book. I decided to do some of my homework, and read almost an entire book.


Two hours later we arrived in Florida. The palm trees waved through the night sky, with a small breeze that gave only a little bit of chill. We exited the plane and walked toward our luggage. After waiting for our belongings, we left for the shuttle bus. After 30 minutes, we arrived to our hotel. It was really pretty. The area was surrounded by beautiful palm trees, freshly cut grass, and sculptures of different Disney characters. The building was also painted with bright summer colors to really show of its name: Disney’s Pop Century Resort. The first thing we did was put away our luggage into our rooms, and then went to get dinner at the resort cafeteria. The majority of our team ordered the chicken tenders, which is a team favorite. After eating, we all went into our rooms to sleep, and get ready for the next day’s 8:00 a.m. game.


Day Two: Friday, March 16th


It was 6:00 a.m., and all three of my roommates were awake and ready to start the day for before game warm ups. We started our day getting ready, and received snacks and drinks for our two games for that day. After we got all of our items for the games, we proceeded to go to our own shuttle bus that brings us to the ESPN World Wide of Sports Complex. We played two games, one at 8:00 a.m. and another at 10:00 a.m. Our first game was against Bergen County Technical High School, and we suffered a loss of 12 to 7. Our second game was against Homer-Center High School, and we regained victory with a score of 7 to 2.


Once we returned back to the hotel, we had enough time to shower before heading to the Disney Parks. We visited Disney Springs, which consists of shopping centers and restaurants. Many of us went to the World of Disney Store, which has about every Disney character item, stuffed animals, keychains, shirts, and more. We also all met up to eat at a restaurant called Wolfgang Puck. Once we finished shopping and eating, it was time to return back to the hotel for a good night’s sleep for the next day of softball games.


Day Three: Saturday, March 17th


It was once again another 6:00 a.m. wake up, with two games at 8:00 a.m. and 10:00 a.m. We played both games against Indian Hills High School and lost both times.


We finished our two games, we visited the Magic Kingdom, the main park in Disney. We rode a lot of rides like Space Mountain, Seven Dwarfs Mine Train, and It’s a Small World. Later, we got dinner.  A couple of girls and I decided to get Mexican food at the restaurant, Pecos Bill Tall Tale Inn and Cafe. Once we finished, we rode a couple more rides, and continued our way back to the buses to go to the hotel.


Day Four: Sunday, March 18th


This time we didn’t have such an early wake up time. We were allowed to sleep in today; our games were at 4:00 p.m. and 6:00 p.m. We had to board onto the bus by at least 2:00 p.m., so we had plenty of time to get ready for the games.


Our first game was against Saddle Brook High School, and we recovered from yesterday's lost with a score of 12 to 2, "mercying them." Mercying a team means to win by a certain amount before all of the innings were finished. If it is more than 12 runs after three innings or 10 runs after five innings, then the game is over. Our second game was against Vineland High School, and we suffered a loss of 17 to 8. After finishing our games, we went back to the hotel and got food from the resort cafeteria, before getting a good night’s rest.


Day Five: Monday, March 19th


Once again, we were back on that early 8:00 a.m and 10:00 a.m. game time. We struggled waking up this morning since we were allowed to sleep in yesterday. We picked up any snacks and drinks we wanted for the day, and got ready for the upcoming games. We had another double header with the same team. Our games were against Paramus High School. The score of the first game was 17-9, with Nutley losing. Although, we rebounded quickly and won the second game with a score of 11-4.


We returned back to the hotel to shower and do whatever we needed. Today we were going to Animal Kingdom, although there was a twist. Our coaches decided that we all should dress up as a Disney character. Each grade level had a theme. The two seniors dressed as Lilo and Stitch; the juniors as the cast of Winnie the Pooh; the sophomores as the dogs from 101 Dalmations; and the freshmen as Cinderella and the two stepsisters. We walked into Animal Kingdom like true Disney experts.We rode rides like Expedition Everest, Kali River Rapids, Kilimanjaro Safaris, and Avatar Flight of Passage. After the rides, we all ate at Yak and Yeti. Every girl on the team ordered their famous fried rice and loved it. If you haven’t tried it, you must on your next visit.


Our next stop was some water rides. I stayed behind because I don’t like rides that get me wet like Kali River Rapids and Splash Mountain. Later that day, we learned that our 6:30 p.m. flight home was canceled due to a storm in the Northeast. We had to call our parents and tell them that our new flight was 11:30 a.m. on Thursday.


Day Six: Tuesday, March 20th


The trip was coming to an end, and Tuesday was our last set of games. We drove to the complex, and played our two games. The first game was against Ramsey High School. We lost with a score of 13-1. We regained victory with a score of 13-2 versus Montclair Kimberley Academy High School.


We got to the hotel and we were all getting ready for Epcot, a Disney park mainly consisting of attractions, restaurants, and pavilions. There are not that many rides at Epcot; it is more for sightseeing. The girls all wanted to dress fancier than usual, since we were eating at a Japanese Hibachi for dinner. Many wore rompers or jeans with nice tops, but everyone looked great in whatever they wore. We walked around Epcot, observing all the beautiful flower statues of some Disney characters and the Spaceship Earth geosphere, which many call the "giant golf ball." When it came time for dinner, we sat around the rectangular pan that the chefs use to cook our meals. We watched our chief create smiley faces with food, an onion volcano. The chef also performed knife and fork tricks as she cooked. The food was really good, and we left with full bellies.


When we left Epcot, we found out that our flight for Thursday 11:30 a.m. had to be canceled as well, due to snow continuing at home. We made a new travel arrangements, to fly home at 6:00 a.m. Friday morning.


The coaches made the most of our extra time in Florida and scheduled a new set of games for the following day. We also had an extra hour to use batting cages if we wanted to hit before the games.


Day Seven: Wednesday, March 21st


We  left the hotel in the morning for the batting cages and two sets of games. The coaches held practice session before starting. Our first game was at noon against Gill St. Bernard’s High School, a New Jersey team from Gladstone. We won with a score of 13-2, mercying them. We lost our second game, to St. Anthony’s High School, in a close game, 7-5.


Day Eight: Thursday, March 22nd


We planned a team-building activity for today; a mini scavenger hunt. The seniors and freshmen paired up; the juniors, and the sophomores all against each other. The goal was to make it to the 10th clue and find the object before everyone else. The juniors won, with seniors and freshmen in second, and the sophomores in last place.


We then prepared to leave the beautiful Florida weather and head back to the extremely cold temperatures back in Nutley. That night, we watched a Movie Under the Stars at the hotel and did some homework before heading to bed.


Day Nine: Friday, March 23rd


It was 2:30 a.m., and it was time to begin our return trip home. Some of us were happy, although some were definitely going to miss the warm sun and hot weather. We got to the airport around 3:15 a.m., and waited to board for 6:05 a.m. At 6:30 a.m., everyone had boarded the plane, and it was time for take off. I sure was going to miss Florida, but I missed seeing all of my friends and family.


During the plane ride, all of the girls were sleeping, while others were doing any school assignments. It was almost time to descend, and eyes began to open. The plane started descending, and we were able to see the buildings of Newark. I was glad to be home. We exited off the plane, and grabbed all of our belongings. After waiting about 20 minutes for the bus driver, we drove back to Nutley High School. I went back into the school for the second half of the day.


Florida was definitely an experience to remember. This memory is marked as the first trip of the season and of my NHS softball career. I’m glad I got to experience this trip with these girls. I was so shy to meet them at first, but bonding with each one on this trip made me a little more confident with myself each day. This trip will be stored in my memory for a long time, and I can’t wait for more trips, seasons and softball to come.