Road trip

There are road trips, then there are road trips.

Local teams travel all over Central Missouri for sporting events. Bigger schools frequently go to St. Louis and Kansas City for games, and often out of state.

The Jefferson City Jays baseball team went to Florida this spring. The football team has gone as far as Colorado.

A bit further from home, the Rockhurst football team has traveled to Minnesota, Texas, Nevada and Washington D.C. for games.

Hah. That's nothing.

Try Spain. And France, as Southern Boone soccer coach Chris Miller will take a boys team of 16 players on a 10-day European vacation starting on Friday.

"They're excited and they're nervous," Miller said. "They're anxious to see what it's all about. Soccer is just about 20 percent of the trip, there's so much more ... the culture, it's getting away from their cell phones, their girlfriends, and mom and dad a little bit.

"They get to see what happens on the other side of the world. A lot of times, too, it sort of makes it a smaller world and they get a little more confidence, as people.

"The way these trips are designed, you can't but have fun."

The team consists 13 players from Southern Boone, and one each from Fulton, Crocker and Rock Bridge. They will play four "friendlies" --- the quaint soccer term for exhibition matches --- two each in Barceolona, Spain, and Nice, France.

"The tournament thing is nice, but you're tied down a little bit," Miller said. "The friendlies just give us a little more freedom to play some kids more and do some more sightseeing."

Having said that, once the friendly starts ...

"The boys are going to want to compete," Miller said.

Spain right now is the King of Soccer --- the defending World Cup Champion. For argument's sake, let's just say that soccer in Europe, period, is a 10 on a scale of 1-10.

In Miller's opinion, where would that put soccer in the United States?

"I'd say a seven or eight," he said. "If we play the American way, we're going 1,000 mph. Nobody wants to play us, just because we play a lot harder than what other teams do.

"Players in Europe just have a lot more skill ... they have it inbred in them a lot more, you could say. That's what it comes down to."

There will be some comforts of home on this trip, like McDonalds --- if they have an urge for a Big Mac or a Quarter Pounder with cheese.

Or, as they call it in the old country, A Royale with Cheese.

"I always tell them, 'You know what? You can get that at home,'" Miller said. "Let's go out and try something new. But boys are boys."

After the team heads home July 21, Miller will spend an additional five days in Switzerland. How's your summer vacation?

This is the fourth time Miller has taken a team to Europe.

"It gets in your blood," he said. "With the trips we've taken in the past, there's always a bump or two here and there. But everybody comes back thinking it's the greatest thing they've ever done.

"I'm hoping this will follow suit."

Indeed. Some road trips are longer --- and better --- than others.