Frank Stranzl

Every end has a beginning. And the end of this adventure couldn’t come soon enough. When I think of North Dakota State football, a lot of things pop into my head. Not because last year I intercepted a pass and ran 73 yards for what ended up being the game-winning touchdown. No, I think of the worst road trip I have ever been a part of.

For those of you who have no idea what it’s like to travel for a football game, it usually starts with a team meeting at the Avenue where we have team breakfast at about 8 a.m., then a short trip down to the stadium where we give our respects to the fallen Mustangs of the 1960 plane crash. What follows is a two-and-a-half hour bus ride to the San Jose Airport.

This particular trip started out just the same, but with a little twist. The plane was to arrive in Fargo, North Dakota by 9 p.m. Upon arrival, we would have team meetings and team dinner. But even the most well thought out plans can go wrong. Just about everything that could go wrong went wrong. Since there are no direct flights from California to Fargo, we had to fly past North Dakota and land in Minnesota where we were expected to have an hour layover. At this time it’s already been six hours since the team had anything to eat. You can imagine how hungry all the 300 lb linemen are at this point. So, against my head coaches wishes, I decided to duck out the terminal where the team was waiting to board the plane and go find something to eat.

The hour layover ended up becoming two hours for a busted landing gear.

When we finally boarded the plane, the trip became a nightmare. As we are hurrying out to the runway the captain comes on over the intercom and says, “We are about 700 lbs overweight and we are going to have to go back and take some stuff off.” After about five minutes of driving around the runway, we somehow burned off 700 lbs of fuel.

I will never forget the faces on some of the players when the captain said that we were going to ATTEMPT to takeoff. What did he mean ATTEMPT? Did we burn off the fuel or not?

We finally got up in the air and were heading towards Fargo, which is only a 45-minute flight. When we began to start the landing procedure our wonderful captain came on the intercom again to give us some more words of confidence.

He told us that he was going to try to land the plane…

Now, I am no pilot but when I am looking out my window and can barley see the ground I know the pilot can barley see it as well. As we are getting seemingly closer to the ground, all of a sudden the plane pulls up like we were being shot at. The captain tells us that we don’t have enough fuel to attempt to land again and we are going to have to fly another hour to South Dakota.

Once we got to South Dakota our crew could no longer fly and the plane had to be grounded. By this time, everyone on the team was about to start eating the seats. I was thankful that I got that burger and fries in Minnesota. The coaches scrambled to figure out a way to get us to Fargo, which would mean a four-hour bus trip or another quick turn-around flight.

The plane company found a crew and plane to fly us back up to Fargo. We finally landed and got to the hotel at 2:30 a.m. and everyone got to eat and got to bed.

Every end has a beginning. The end of this road trip came with a Mustang victory over the Bison, and the beginning of the trip home.

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