Over 749 miles from Price, Utah, the USU Eastern baseball team played Cochise College in Douglas, Arizona, the weekend of Feb. 19-20.
During the tournament, the bus driver Terri Paulk, noticed the engine was getting hot and kept putting antifreeze in it to keep it cool. On the way to Price, she continued to add nine more gallons of antifreeze as the team and coaches began the journey back to Eastern. A worry for Paulk was the long stretches of road where there was little or no cell phone coverage if the bus broke down.
She drove seven hours the first night, stayed in Flagstaff, Arizona, and seven hours the second day. Paulk limped the bus back to Eastern where more antifreeze was added.
“Had to have been my most stressful drive ever. In Navajo Nation they have their own cell towers and outsiders passing through don’t have access to them, not the place you want to break down with 30 students,” Paulk said.
Eastern athletic director Scott Madsen was scrambling to find transportation for his teams to participate in away games when the bus broke down.
“The Eagle bus is a major part of the athletic department as there are several teams that have more student-athletes on roster than will be able to fit in any of the smaller buses we currently have on campus. The administration, along with the motor pool employees, are looking at several different options for a long term solution. Fortunately, we were able to find a local company that has the capability to get the transportation that we needed in order to complete the rest of the spring season,” Madsen said.
The Eagle bus has over 500,000 miles on it and the administration is looking at replacing it with a newer bus or rebuilding the engine.