By Nate Tenopir, Editor-in-Chief
Tennis coach Mike Saniuk says lengthy trips away from home offer mixed blessings. In some situations, being around one another on a day-by-day basis allows for bonding and team building.
Other times it can highlight differences and expose some of the annoyances team members have for one another. UNO put that to the test on a spring break trip to Hilton Head, S.C. March 18-24.
“It’s a fine line,” Saniuk said. “Too much time with the same amount of people sometimes is a bad thing. But I think they balanced it well. We have a good group of guys and girls.”
In the past UNO has spent time on the road in regional locations such as Minnesota, Kansas and Missouri. But the trip to South Carolina offered a unique opportunity to travel further than any other Maverick team had before.
Even some of the players’ parents booked flights or made the drive to provide a familiar face in the crowd.
“That’s something UNO hasn’t done in its history is travel and enjoy that aspect of college athletics, I think that’s really important,” Saniuk said. “It gives you a chance to bond and really, truly get to know your teammates aside from just practice time and seeing them on campus.”
While there, the team stayed just blocks away from the beach and had the opportunity to catch a few rays. Other activities included the women’s team taking the short trip down to Savannah, Ga., and the men playing one of their matches in historic Columbia, S.C.
But for Saniuk, his own personal highlight may have been winning the team’s annual miniature golf tournament.
“I think mini golf is a great way to bring out competition but still have fun,” Saniuk said. “It’s a fun hour and a half, but still like any golfer will tell you it can be stressing depending on how competitive you wanna be with it. Overall it’s a nice, relaxing way to have a little fun.”
The tradition started last year, and Saniuk got beat because he says he didn’t bring his ‘A’ game. He jokingly indicated he had been preparing and training to redeem himself in this year’s tournament. Now that he’s on top, Saniuk says he’ll probably have to make a trophy to put in his office to brag about for a year.
In terms of defending that title on future road trips, Saniuk plans to continue sending the teams to distant competitions every year.
“It might not be Hilton Head, but it’ll be somewhere else,” Saniuk said. “I think that spring break trip is really important, and if it’s not a spring break trip maybe it’ll be an extended trip over fall break or winter break or something. But yes, we’ll go somewhere.”