Students cherish trip to Tampa to support Lady Bears

Baylor students show their support for the women’s basketball team during the national championship game on Sunday in Tampa, Fla. Almost 100 students traveled by bus to cheer on the Lady Bears. Shae Koharski | Multimedia Journalist

By Kaitlyn DeHaven | Digital Managing Editor

Baylor students spread their love for the green and gold this past weekend as they traveled by bus for 20 hours each way to cheer on the Lady Bears at the NCAA Final Four and National Championship.

The first busload of 49 Baylor students left on Thursday evening and drove through the night to deposit the students straight at the stadium for the Lady Bears’ Final Four match-up against the Oregon Ducks.

Due to timing and an unexpected thunderstorm in the middle of the night, the students were not able to stop by a hotel to shower or change their clothes, but still, their love for the Lady Bears carried them through. Before the game, they brushed their teeth in the parking lot using water from their water bottles and changed on the bus – the girls were given the first 15 minutes, and then the boys for the next 15 minutes.

“It was interesting,” Missoula, Mont., junior Maddie Keiper said. “I have definitely never had to change that quickly before, but it was worth it to see the Lady Bears.”

At the game Friday night, the students cheered the Lady Bears to victory against the Oregon Ducks. This prompted another busload of students to leave from Baylor to Tampa, Fla. Student Activities notified students who were on the wait list for the first trip that they could travel on the Championship bus trip if they wished, and then they opened the trip to all Baylor students.

The second trip required a quick turnaround, as the busload planned to leave at 3 p.m. Saturday.

Palestine sophomore Lauryn James said it was a long bus ride, but being there for the Lady Bears’ win made it worthwhile.

“It was stressful – a very spontaneous adventure, but worth every moment,” James said. “It was amazing to see our Lady Bears win a National Championship.”

On Saturday, the first busload of Baylor students went to Magic Kingdom at Walt Disney World. This excursion did not cost the students any extra money, aside from any food, drinks or souvenirs they bought. The ticket for the entire trip was $100, but one ticket to Magic Kingdom alone is usually $105.

The second bus of 50 students arrived on Sunday afternoon, just in time for a stop at the hotel and for all the students to go see the Lady Bears’ red carpet entrance.

Following the red carpet entrance, the students watched the game, cheering the Lady Bears to victory once again, but this time, for the National Championship.

Some of the students had the opportunity to sit court-side, which Orange senior Arish Bheraiya said was an amazing opportunity that he’s thankful to have had.

“It was absolutely worth it,” Bheraiya said. “Especially this final game when they got us seats second row, court-side. [We were] getting into the game.”

The group rounded out their trip by going back to the players’ hotel and celebrating the victory with them, and then arrived back in Waco Monday evening.

Cypress freshman Lauren Neumann said the trip was a once in a lifetime opportunity, and she’s glad that she got to be a part of it.

“When I heard about it, I knew we had to go,” Neumann said. “It was definitely worth it and I wouldn’t change it for anything.”