Alternate Crop

NewsOK | BLOGS

Traveling with the Sooners

by Sarah Phipps Modified: March 24, 2014 at 5:10 pm •  Published: March 24, 2014
Advertisement
;

Last Tuesday, I boarded the University of Oklahoma basketball team’s charter to Spokane, Wash., at the Oklahoma City airport. The university offered the paper seats on the plane. Normally we do not fly with the team but since the seats were much cheaper than commercial flights, we took them up on their offer.

I settled in my seat as Oklahoma head coach Lon Kruger boarded the plane and began walking down the aisle greeting guests as he strolled by. I took a few pictures of him before he stopped at my row. He shook my hand and thanked me for being there.

Oklahoma coach Lon Kruger greats guest aboard a plan on the way to Spokane, Wash., for the men's NCAA basketball championship tournament, Tuesday, March 18, 2014.Photo by Sarah Phipps, The Oklahoman
Oklahoma coach Lon Kruger greats guest aboard a plan on the way to Spokane, Wash., for the men's NCAA basketball championship tournament, Tuesday, March 18, 2014.Photo by Sarah Phipps, The Oklahoman

Even though is was a Southwest flight, OU officials assigned seats.  Luckily I was assigned a window seat and spent my three hours on the plane peering down at the earth below us. It was mostly snow covered. On our approach to the Spokane airport we were treated with a fantastic view of the mountain ranges surrounding Spokane. After we landed, we parted our ways with the team.

Mountains seen surrounding Spokane from the airplane. Photo by Sarah Phipps, The Oklahoman
Mountains seen surrounding Spokane from the airplane. Photo by Sarah Phipps, The Oklahoman

I checked in at our media hotel and immediately went exploring. We were staying in downtown Spokane and it is a very walkable city. There is a lot to see while on foot and I walked down to the river park.I began most of my mornings with a walk at the river park. While in the Pacific Northwest, I tried to fill my lungs up with with as much crisp mountain air as I could. There is nothing better than waking up to cool mountain mornings with a the smell of pine floating through the air.

Falls at the Riverfront Park in downtown Spokane. Photo by Sarah Phipps, The Oklahoman
Falls at the Riverfront Park in downtown Spokane. Photo by Sarah Phipps, The Oklahoman

Before practice and press conference day, team Oklahoman, took a quick drive to Idaho to check out Coeur D’Irene.

Coeur d'Alene lake in Idaho. Photo by Sarah Phipps, The Oklahoman
Coeur d'Alene lake in Idaho. Photo by Sarah Phipps, The Oklahoman

Our time in Spokane came to an abrupt halt after North Dakota St. defeated the Sooners.

North Dakota State head coach Saul Phillips celebrates after beating the Sooner in overtime as Oklahoma's Je'lon Hornbeak (5) walks off the coach during the NCAA men's basketball tournament game in Spokane, Wash., Thursday, March 20, 2014. Oklahoma home lost 80-75. Photo by Sarah Phipps, The Oklahoman
North Dakota State head coach Saul Phillips celebrates after beating the Sooner in overtime as Oklahoma's Je'lon Hornbeak (5) walks off the coach during the NCAA men's basketball tournament game in Spokane, Wash., Thursday, March 20, 2014. Oklahoma home lost 80-75. Photo by Sarah Phipps, The Oklahoman

On Friday morning after a long delay waiting for our turn to go through security at the private section of the Spokane airport, we reluctantly boarded an Untied flight home to Oklahoma City. We settled in our seats. The media sat in the wing section. The cheer and band squads sat in the back. The team sat in front of the media near the middle. Family and other Oklahoma guests sat in the front of the plane.

As I buckled my seat, Lon Kruger once again walked down the aisle of the plane. As he walked down, he patted the shoulders of those who sat in the aisle seats. He spoke to the family members. He spoke the cheerleaders and to the media. There wasn’t one section of the plane that did not get a greeting. As he strolled past my, seat he told the cheerleaders that it was a shorter trip than expected but they would be back next year.

Soon we were taxing down the runaway and Frank Booker gave us our safety instructions and showed us how to use the oxygen masks in case of an emergency.  Once we landed he stood next to the exit and said good bye to every passenger.

Oklahoma's Frank Booker shows the plane how to use the oxygen masks in case of an emergency. Photo by Sarah Phipps, The Oklahoman
Oklahoma's Frank Booker shows the plane how to use the oxygen masks in case of an emergency. Photo by Sarah Phipps, The Oklahoman

Midway through the flight, our pilots invited us to take a look at the cockpit because it was a charter flight there were not as many security restrictions. One by one the team walked up to cockpit. I took my turn and chatted with the pilots. They showed me the flight plan on a map and confirmed to me the big mountains I saw were Yellowstone. They told me that if the weather cleared I would see the Rocky Mountains, my favorite place in this world. Unfortunately, it was too cloudy to see the Rockies but I had incredibles view of Yellowstone.

Our United pilots somewhere over Wyoming. Photo by Sarah Phipps, The Oklahoman
Our United pilots somewhere over Wyoming. Photo by Sarah Phipps, The Oklahoman
Yellowstone National Park as seen through the air. Photo by Sarah Phipps, The Oklahoman
Yellowstone National Park as seen through the air. Photo by Sarah Phipps, The Oklahoman
Yellowstone National Park as seen through the air. Photo by Sarah Phipps, The Oklahoman
Yellowstone National Park as seen through the air. Photo by Sarah Phipps, The Oklahoman

Once we landed in Oklahoma City we gathered our bags off the runway and made our way to our homes.

Baggage claim on the Oklahoma City airport tarmac. Photo by Sarah Phipps, The Oklahoman
Baggage claim on the Oklahoma City airport tarmac. Photo by Sarah Phipps, The Oklahoman

See all photos from Oklahoma’s game against North Dakota St.,  here. 

— Sarah Phipps

 

 

 

by Sarah Phipps
Photographer
Born in Missouri, Sarah Phipps graduated of Northwest Missouri State University with a degree in Mass Communication and French in 1999. After an internship with the St. Joe News-press, Sarah moved to Oklahoma for a full-time job at the...
+ show more



Trending Now


AROUND THE WEB

  1. 1
    Lankford compares struggles with Islamic radicals to Cold War
  2. 2
    OU football: Sooners rank No. 1 in ESPN power rankings, playoff forecast
  3. 3
    Missing Afghan Soldiers Apprehended Trying To Cross Border Into Canada
  4. 4
    Scotland's leader: Voters 'tricked' in referendum
  5. 5
    Kenan Thompson -- I'm Leaving 'Saturday Night Live' After This Season
+ show more