This past weekend a group of about 20 people rented a bus and drove down to Minnesota to support the AUDL team, Minnesota Windchill. Minnesota Windchill signed 5 Winnipeg players at the start of the season, then another recently. There is now a total of 6 Winnipeg players on the team; Quinn Snider, Cam Burden, Jesse Greenberg, Matthew Ladyman, Alan Scarth and Nic Daquisto.
Back in March, the idea was thrown out there that we should rent a bus and drive down to watch one of their home games, it seemed like a bit of a crazy idea at first, but that idea soon came to fruition as more and more people became interested. When we had enough people committed, we started figuring out logistics and it all came together. I agreed to write this story, documenting our trip and all the fun we had!
Everyone was so excited for this trip; the day came to leave, and Kelvin Dyck said, “It feels like Christmas morning”. Kelvin was the one who spearheaded a lot of the planning and even drove the bus, we may have forgotten to check his credentials but we were certain he was a good driver when we were just about to leave the parking lot in Winnipeg and we turned onto the sidewalk instead of the road. At that point, the fun began as we quickly had an inside joke between the 20 or so of us.
The long drive ahead of us began; some of us slept, some of us talked and some of us sang, but we were all surprised when the bus came to a stop on the side of the highway near Morris. We all looked up to see us stopped for no apparent reason but quickly learned the bus had just stalled and we were forced to stop. Unsure of what to do, Kelvin figured he would try to restart it. Lucky for us, it worked, and we were on the road again… but not for long. We all looked up to see why we were slowing down so fast but clued in that the bus had stalled again. This time it didn’t restart. So, we called the bus company and they brought us another bus! Any more stalls and we would’ve been close to stall 10 and a turnover! About an hour and a half later, we were back on the road, this time, nothing could stop us. Except maybe a full bladder, or a package that was sent to America for pickup… or the border!
Once we crossed the border, it was pretty smooth sailing from there, many rounds of ‘werewolf’ also known as mafia were played. We arrived at the hotel around 10:30 pm and most of us were in bed pretty quick knowing we had an early morning and long day ahead of us.
With everyone refreshed and ready we all had lots of energy and excitement going into the game, we had packages that allowed us to have free beer, free food, free discs or shirts and we got to stand on the sidelines. Windchill was up against Chicago Wildfire, who they had played before and lost to once and beat once. We knew it would be an exciting game! Unfortunately for Chicago, we were directly behind their team, which may have caused us to talk to them and we may or may not have chirped them lots…
With all of our fancy signs in hand which read: Manitoba Windchill, We drove 700 clicks for this, and Lay out, Eh! We pulled up to the Seafoam stadium and began to watch them warm up and get excited for the game to start. With all of us dressed up in our Windchill hoodies, we were the best-looking fans out there, so good looking, we were featured on the live stream quite a bit! With a bit of wind in the stadium, it was clear that it would have a role in the game. They were trading points for a while which meant that whoever scored an upwind point would have an advantage. Throughout the game we learnt and adjusted to the rules of the AUDL which were new to us. Free energy drinks and free beer may have been a factor; however, we were all very energetic and used it to cheer, and also to chirp the other team. I accidentally started a cheer towards a player on the other team who we named “water boy”, he was always there with water for his team mates but barely got to play so we began chanting “HYDRO! HYDRO!”. He engaged with us, but we could also tell we were getting in their heads, so we of course continued. We also told the other team that one of their players needs a haircut... his braided man bun was not cutting it. We were yelling to the other team saying that once they cut his hair maybe they can win games. Many other things were said, but also lots of positive encouragement to our Winnipeg boys and their team mates. With an amazing performance from Windchill and their fans, they managed to pull out a win and finished the game, one point ahead with a 27-26 finish. An exciting game to say the least.
Being the youngest on the trip at 18 years old was good fun until it came time to go to Surly Brewing after the game. Everyone had no problem getting in then they asked me for my ID and I had to say I’m only 18, at that point they said okay you can go in, but he grabbed a big sharpie and drew giant X’s across my hands... which made for lots of teasing when I was inside. Little did we know; Chicago was also at Surly after the game. The team we just spent 2 hours making fun of! I was water boy’s biggest fan as I had declared on the sidelines so of course I had to go talk to him and he said it was fun to have fans and Steve bought him a beer on my behalf (because of the giant X’s on my hands). We spent lots of time talking with him until he realized the rest of his team was gone and his bus was leaving... oops.
The Winnipeg Windchill boys were welcomed into surly by us with loud cheering and clapping as we shared their excitement of the big win. We spent the night visiting with friends and players and eating good pizza. As the night came to an end, we all thought about how we enjoyed the day and this sport we all play which brought us all together and gave us this opportunity to bring everyone together for a weekend of fun.
On Sunday, we hit Albertville outlet mall. After a bit more shopping and some temporary tattoo application on grown men’s necks, we were ready to make the trek back home. Everyone was burnt out and tired, so we spent the first couple of hours sleeping except Kelvin, I hope. Then we began playing werewolf again which made time fly by quickly. In what felt like no time we were unpacking the bus and saying our goodbyes.
A big thank you goes out to Kelvin for his hours of planning, getting the signs ready, and of course, driving the bus. Thank you to Karen Burden for doing behind the scenes planning and finding the hotel. Thank you to my Mom, Angela Hilland for doing the financial planning and keeping us in line. Another thank you to MODS for supporting our trip and sharing our stories!
We hope to make this trip again and expand it to other people in the community!