What college program has to travel the *most* in a season?
To the spreadsheets! And Google Maps!
Good morning, and thanks for spending part of your day with Extra Points.
Last week, I briefly wrote about Arizona State Men’s Hockey finally finding a conference home. While the NCHC isn’t a perfect geographic fit for the Sun Devils, (it does include teams in Ohio and Michigan, after all), it will make travel much easier and predictable. I did some quick googling, and it looks like Arizona State will need to travel 14,325 miles for road games next season, thanks in part to two trips to Alaska.
And that got me wondering…what team is logging the most miles in the country?
Here are the methods I used, which aren’t scientific in the least:
I limited my search to just teams in the continental United States, although I counted road trips to Hawaii or Alaska. The hockey teams at the University of Alaska campuses would obviously be the leaders in total miles traveled, and…that just wouldn’t make a very interesting newsletter, huh?
I calculated the distance in miles, using Google Maps between the two campuses. So my queries looked something like this:
I realize that these programs are flying, not driving, to most of these places. I also did not calculate the return trip…just the total mileage for the flight to the road game.
I assumed that teams would not miss more than three consecutive days of class, even though I realize that does happen sometimes. If a program played a game on Friday in one location, and then another in a slightly nearby location on Sunday, I calculated the distances as part of one trip, rather than assuming they flew back to campus between games.
If the 2023-2024 schedules were set and on the school’s website, I used those. For everybody else, I used their 2022-2023 schedule. I also limited my calculations to regular season schedules.
So, this is all very back of the napkin….but enough to at least be a conversation starter for a free newsletter, right?
So if the answer isn’t Arizona State, who is it? A few potential candidates:
Utah Men’s Lacrosse
The Pac-12 doesn’t sponsor Men’s Lacrosse, and Utah is one of only four programs West of the Mississippi River (Denver, Air Force, and Lindenwood are the others). After playing as an independent for a few years, the Utes joined the ASUN conference as an affiliate member. Air Force and Lindenwood are in that league, sure, but the bulk of ASUN Men’s Lacrosse members are in the Midwest and South.
In 2023, Utah had just two road trips under 600 miles (Denver and Air Force), and three over 2,000 miles (Rutgers, Queens, and Johns Hopkins). According to my very back-of-napkin math, the 2023 Utah Men’s Lacrosse program logged 10,840 miles of regular season road trip travel.
Stanford Field Hockey
There are a couple of programs out West that sponsor varsity Field Hockey…but not enough for a conference. Stanford, Cal, and UC Davis all improbably play in the America East Conference, against teams like Vermont and New Hampshire.
Field Hockey allows for Friday/Sunday games, so I imagine Stanford didn’t fly directly home after every single match…but still needed to make road trips to Columbus, New Hampshire, Vermont, and Bryant, all trips that are well north of 2,000 miles. Cal was their only road opponent that was less than 2,000 miles from campus.
Based on my ugly math, the 2023 Stanford Field Hockey likely logged about 12,731 miles in regular season travel.
Chicago State Men’s and Women’s basketball
Chicago State didn’t take many outrageously long road trips last season. What was more notable was the sheer volume of road games. As D-I’s only basketball independent last season, Chicago State had to grab games whenever, and wherever, they could. Based on my math, the Chicago State women traveled a total of roughly 5,411 miles, which is a lot, but most of those games were at least near the Midwest (no road trip was more than 1,000 miles).
The Men’s program didn’t get as many home games and had to travel to places like Stanford, Gonzaga, Coastal Carolina, Bethune-Cookman, and Hartford. My best estimate for their total travel is 13,762 miles.
Air Force Men’s Hockey
Unlike Arizona State, the Air Force Falcons don’t compete as an independent…they’re a member of the Atlantic Hockey Association. The problem is…nobody else in the AHA is anywhere close to Colorado Springs. The closest campus to Air Force, I believe, is just outside of Pittsburgh. Like, the one in Pennsylvania.
Every conference game required travel of well over 1,000 miles, and this season’s big neutral site showcase is in Milwaukee, also over 1,000 miles away. To make matters worse, Air Force is scheduled to play Alaska-Anchorage out of conference in 2023-2024. Outside of a road trip to Denver, every single opponent is at least 1,000 miles away.
Based on my math, that means Air Force has to travel roughly 16,611 miles, more than any other program I studied.
Is that a lot? Yes, of course. But to be fair, being able to execute at a high level far from where you enjoy home-field advantage…is kind of the entire point of the Air Force.
Did I miss anybody? I’m sure that I did. Let me know in the comments.
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