The De Pere boys football team were ready to board a bus Thursday night for a game in Green Bay East.
The Redbirds waited for him to arrive. And waited. And waited.
A bus passed in front of the school, then another.
“Unfortunately too many buses passed and none of them were for us,” De Pere coach Martin Valenzuela said. “It turned out that we couldn’t make the game happen. It’s unfortunate. The boys were delighted.
“You just have to sit back and say we did our best to get the boys on a bus. I will say, luckily, we have such a good sports department that they kept working and working on a bus. It just couldn’t happen.
Valenzuela has been involved in football for a long time but he has never experienced a situation like Thursday.
Sometimes a bus breaks down on the way to a game or a school forgets to book a driver.
The UWGB men’s soccer team was in Kentucky years ago when an axle broke and had to be welded on. The players slept on the bus and ate at a truck stop for two days while it was repaired.
But this one was new.
The bus was due to leave for the East around 5:30 p.m. for the 6:30 p.m. game. Valenzuela became concerned when he was not there at that time, especially since the bus almost always arrives 10 or 15 minutes before departure time.
He pulled out his cell phone and messaged as many people as possible to find out if they knew anything. He called athletic director Jeff Byczek, and Valenzuela said he and Byczek were on the phone with the bus company.
At 6:30 p.m., Valenzuela believed a bus had finally been secured. They just had to wait for him to appear.
“It never was,” he laughed.
Valenzuela said they were informed shortly after that the game had been called off. He moved his team to the school football field and had a light scrimmage for 20 minutes to prepare for a home game Saturday against Wisconsin Rapids.
“The bus driver stopped afterwards to apologize,” Valenzuela said. “Apparently it was just a big mix-up on their end. He kind of had two or three different things being said to him at once, which confused him. Unfortunately, we didn’t have a bus for us.
Although De Pere is only 5.6 miles east, having coaches and players drive to the game was not an option.
Like many schools, De Pere’s policy does not allow this. In the past, some districts have allowed student-athletes to drive to games, but this has become strongly discouraged for safety and liability reasons.
Valenzuela hasn’t ruled out a catch-up date against the Red Devils, although a busy schedule in September and October and it being a non-conference game could make things difficult.
If there is, they just hope a bus is there to pick them up.
“One of the worst feelings is having a team waiting and no bus,” said former Bay Port sporting director Otis Chambers. “We had times when multiple teams shared a bus or the bus had to make multiple trips to get the teams to their destination. Any Tuesday or Thursday in the spring, you might need seven or eight buses.
“Everyone has a bus story. Even some they would like to forget.