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Fundraising to Florida: FSU sports travel for Spring Break

Three girls holding up pizza in front of open box of cheese pizza
Courtesy of FSU Softball

By Adam Levine

Sports Editor

Steven Burbank said the first time he traveled to play baseball was from Boston to Virginia his senior year of high school with his club team.

Burbank, now an FSU junior, is a captain and the starting shortstop of the University’s baseball team, he said.

Brooke Grassia said in high school she drove five-to-six times to Connecticut for tournaments and stayed for a few nights each time. She said the first time she traveled on a plane to play softball was to Florida during her freshman year at FSU.

Grassia, now a junior, is the starting shortstop of the University’s softball team, she said.

Leah Green said the first time she traveled overnight for a lacrosse tournament, she was in seventh grade. She said her older sister also played lacrosse and they traveled together with their dad to tournaments.

Green, now an FSU junior, is a captain and a starting attack on the University's women’s lacrosse team, she said.

These athletes have spent the past year fundraising with their teammates and will travel with their respective teams this Spring Break to Florida for nation-wide competition - an experience which helps them grow as athletes, individuals, and teammates.

All three athletes said the school does not pay for any of the trip and the team fundraises as much as they can to minimize their out-of-pocket expenses.

One of the popular ways the baseball, softball, and women’s lacrosse teams raise money for their trips is by working at Gillette Stadium at a concession stand, all three of the athletes said.

Burbank said the baseball team also hosted a 100-inning baseball game in the past to find unique ways to fundraise. Overall, he said fundraising is a “grueling process.”

Grassia said the softball team hosts training clinics, a golf tournament, and a calendar raffle to raise funds. Participants in the calendar raffle purchase raffle tickets and a winner is drawn each day throughout the month. She said she has not had to pay out of pocket for her trips to Florida with the softball team.

Group of girls posing on stairs in front of white building with green shutters
Courtesy of FSU Women's Lacrosse

Green said the women’s lacrosse team hosts a calendar raffle once a year and has hosted a thrift store pop-up as fundraising events. She said the team still pays a portion of their own expenses for the trip despite their fundraising efforts.

Burbank, Grassia, and Green all said their packing list is simple, but no different than traveling for any other game. They bring all their equipment and may leave only a few unnecessary items behind.

They said their focus is on game-related packing - such as jerseys and equipment - rather than vacation outfits. The most important thing is to have the bare essentials to play - their jersey and their glove and bat or stick and mask, whichever is needed for their respective sport.

After the long process of fundraising to spend their Spring Break traveling for their sport, each athlete recalls what they learned from the experiences.

Burbank said he and the other upperclassmen have been telling the freshmen, “It’s a lot. We go down there and you play baseball.”

He said traveling for baseball in warm weather with no school to worry about “feels almost like a day in the life of a major leaguer. It’s just you show up and you play baseball. It’s kind of nice.”

Courtesy of FSU Baseball

The baseball team traveled to Myrtle Beach, South Carolina the past two seasons, but is traveling to Davenport and Auburndale, Florida this year.

Burbank said, “It's just nice being somewhere where it's just a different climate, a little warmer, and just playing baseball with nothing else to worry about. It's kind of relaxing.”

He said last season the team drove down to Myrtle Beach, but this year they are taking a plane to Florida. “It was a long, long bus ride. … With the bus ride, it was to get on the bus, hopefully get comfortable, maybe sleep a little bit, and then just drive all the way there.”

Burbank said, “It's truly a business trip.

“The priority is baseball and it's a huge focus when we're down there. Everything revolves around it,” he added.

Burbank said the team spends most of their free time relaxing and spending time together. He said a common team activity is mini golf.

Burbank said last year he played mini golf four days in a row. “It usually gets very competitive.”

He said he has learned independence and his love for baseball from these trips.

Burbank said, “All we know is what time the bus leaves for the game and what time we have to be back in our rooms by. You have to manage yourself.

“You kind of learn how much you really love the sport because it's a grueling week and it's a lot of mental and personal battles,” he added.

Grassia said in high school people did not understand why she spent her summers traveling for softball.

“Only a select few people who really want to take their sport to the next level play club and go out of their way to spend weekends in the summers playing sports. … You learn your priorities and how much you're really willing to put aside to play your sport,” she said.

Grassia said traveling to Florida with FSU is the “best weekend of your life, but really all you can think about is the fact that you're about to go to Florida to play 10 softball games and you can't believe that you have to play 10 softball games in five days.”

She said it's a “full circle moment” when you realize you are traveling for a week of softball with your best friends.

Grassia said when traveling you need to be “smart” and “it’s all on you.

“When you go to Florida with your teammates, it's really you and them against the world,” she added.

Grassia said she is grateful for the experience of traveling to play softball. “We do a lot of work for it. … A lot of teams don't even get to travel at the college level.”

She said the team’s trip to Florida is “the best bonding exercise anybody could come up with.” 

Grassia said they have to work together to manage their time outside of games to be ready to play every day. They live together for a week, eat meals together, and often meet each other’s family who have also traveled for the experience.

“That's the best form of team bonding that you can have when you go headstart into the season,” she said.

Green said she has to “mentally prepare” for the long day of travel with the team.

She said the team bonds together throughout the trip and becomes closer. “I've noticed that there has been a difference coming home in how close we are together. It's a huge team bonding thing. I'm so grateful that we do it.”

As a junior and a captain, Green said she tells the freshmen to “just soak it in” when they are preparing for the trip.

She said after her trip her freshman year, she “felt so much more connected to the upperclassmen especially.” 

Green said another piece of advice is to “be open to hanging out with everyone” on the trip, reiterating it is a bonding experience unlike any other.

She said as an individual, these trips teach her more independence. Before coming to FSU, Green said she had never traveled without her parents. She said going on the trip to Florida has given her the confidence and knowledge to travel on her own.

Green said the best part of the experience is learning how to have fun and still win.

“We're playing at this awesome facility in this really nice weather - just have fun with it,” she said.

A group of girls posing in front of a large clock and palm trees
Courtesy of FSU Softball



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