So much for the itinerary.
The plan was for Wantagh to go on a weeklong trip to Colorado for lacrosse and team bonding, but the bonding came sooner than expected, with the team stuck in a Denver hotel waiting for a break in a blizzard.
Wantagh coach John Cuiffo said Denver’s airport closed shortly after the team landed on March 23 and that the 45-minute ride to the hotel took three hours with hazardous road conditions. A total of 19.5 inches of snow fell on Denver, coupled with winds that reached over 50 miles per hour, according to the National Weather Service.
“Cars were abandoned” Cuiffo said. “We had a full day planned on Wednesday ... all that went out the window because we were locked in.”
Added Bobby Casey, a senior goalie: “To be honest we didn’t even know we landed. We thought we were in the clouds because it was snowing so hard. Everything was just white. We knew it would be an experience we would never forget.”
Cuiffo said the team raised $36,000 for the trip through parents, carwashes, selling magazine subscriptions and other fundraising efforts. He added there were also blizzards when he brought his team to Colorado in 2001 and 2003 for similar trips.
But weather didn’t keep stop them for long last week.
Cuiffo said the team practiced indoors Thursday and made it out to a Colorado Avalanche game that night. Wantagh lost to Cherry Creek, 13-5, Friday in Colorado Springs and beat Air Academy High School, 22-15, Saturday at a local town park, he added.
The rest of the time, Casey said, was spent ordering food to the hotel and playing Nintendo’s GameCube with teammates.
“The goal is to play lacrosse, but the goal is to go out there and become closer,” Cuiffo said.
Added Casey: “We had a great time. I have to give a lot of credit to the coaches and I’m happy for my teammates. I wish we were back in Colorado.”