It was Wednesday, February 6, the day before my team left for Tempe, Arizona to open up our season at the Kajikawa Classic. I came into the locker room after practice on that day to find my locker filled with a plethora of items: a carry-on suitcase, multiple helmets, multiple pairs of cleats, multiple uniforms, along with a whole lot of other “stuff” I needed to make sure I packed. Extremely flustered (as I also needed to get to class!), I looked to my locker neighbor, junior Hailey Decker, and she immediately smiled and said, “Welcome to season, freshman.” I then took a deep breath, and we both laughed. Without knowing it, I was about to begin some of the craziest, most fun times of my life: college softball season.

Lilley (second from right) with her freshman teammates at Oregon.

My first experience of traveling and packing may have been a little hectic, but life on the road has been a fun, rigorous experience thus far. Following the Kajikawa Classic, my team then headed to Texas, where we would play nine games in five days all over the state.   After Texas came two trips to Southern California, and before I knew it, we opened up PAC-12 play at home vs. Oregon State.

Typically, our traveling weekends end on Sunday nights where we will arrive into the Eugene airport after midnight, then take our laundry to the locker room, and it is almost 2 a.m. before I finally get to go to bed. Bright and early Monday morning, I would then attend my 9 a.m. tutoring session followed by classes. Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday would go by, and before I knew it, it was 10 p.m. on Wednesday night and I needed to do laundry…. from the previous weekend (oops). It is now Thursday afternoon, and yet once again we are off to the Eugene airport for our next trip

On top of traveling and playing itself, there is also the “school grind.”  On the road, I have to be on top of my school work daily, and we do have quite a bit of team study halls, which helps me get my work done. Our tutors back at the Jaqua Student-Athlete Academic Center help us stay organized, focused, and on top of our school work when we are not on campus.

For me, a typical day on the road consists of getting my morning coffee, having a small breakfast, then heading off to the fields. In preseason, we would play two games, and in conference, we normally play one game. After the game(s), we grab a quick bite to eat, and I do some homework in my free time in the hotel room. Then I go to bed and…. Repeat!

What really makes traveling such a great experience is the people whom I get to spend my trip with: our team likes to have a lot of fun on the road.  When I’m not doing my homework, my teammates are constantly making me laugh. We are assigned different roommates every weekend, so it has been good to get to know some of my teammates better off the field. My coaches make sure to take us to some pretty tasty restaurants, too. We always do our best to convince them to take us to In-N-Out or Chick-Fil-A, and sometimes we will get really lucky and go to a nice streak house. And if we sweep the weekend, that means dessert.

Life on the road as an NCAA player is…. FUN. Getting to play at different stadiums across the country, travel to different states I have never been to before, and getting to play the game I love is such a humbling experience.  The ducks just won our series at UCLA this weekend, and next up is Arizona State in Eugene.

Go Ducks and Go USA!

Jenna #2

  RIGHT: Lilley with her sister, grandmother and mom after a game.