By now, you've heard about the Niagara women's basketball team's 26-hour snowstorm ordeal. All 25 people -- players, coaches, and head coach Kendra Faustin's 1-year-old son -- made it off the New York Thruway shaken, hungry and tired, but otherwise OK. The team rationed food, turned snow into water, kept their phones charged thanks to an idling bus engine and brought aboard another stranded driver for warmth during their day-long odyssey.
On Friday, Niagara players Sylvia Maxwell, a junior guard, and Kaylee Stroemple, a freshman guard, spoke about their blizzard saga to espnW.
When did it dawn on you that you guys weren't going anywhere for a while?
Maxwell: On Monday night, around 12 or 1, I knew we weren't going anywhere.
Stroemple: I think it was about 8 or 9 on Tuesday morning when it hit me. Before that, I was thinking that I was probably going to be back in time for one of my afternoon classes. But at that point, I kind of realized that the snow was coming down, it was not stopping and that it was going to take awhile for anybody to get to us and even try and help us. I figured I should get comfortable.
Did you have any idea it would be as long as it turned out to be?
Maxwell: No. In western New York, we have snow all the time, and I was thinking ,'OK, we are stuck a little bit. It's just a car accident or something. We will be out in no time.' And then Tuesday morning at around 5 a.m., I was thinking, 'Wow, we are really not moving.' But I did not think it was going to be more than 24 hours.
What did you eat?
Maxwell: We had cookies, granola bars and leftover pizza from our previous game. Some parents had brought snacks and goodies, and we had a few of those. That was it.
Stroemple: None of us were really thinking we wouldn't have enough food. I was lucky enough that my mom had brought me some banana bread to our game on Monday, so I was eating that. It helped me to have that and realize I was going to be OK.
What about water?
Maxwell: Some of us had water left over from the game and Gatorade bottles. But after that ran out, we had to put snow in our Gatorade bottles and have it melt so we had water.
You guys were able to get on and off the bus. What did you see when you got off the bus?
Maxwell: You really couldn't see anything. I got off a couple of times to help my teammate get some asthma medicine from under the bus, in the storage hold. You really couldn't see five feet in front of you. It was just white -- blank.
Did you have a sense of how many other people around you were stuck?
Maxwell: I had no idea. I didn't really know there were 100-something cars around us. We could see the truck in front of us and we only knew there was a car behind us because Tom, the driver, came and sat on the bus with us.
Stroemple: We could see the back of the semi-truck in front of us and that was the only car that we could see. Through looking at Twitter, we knew there were 100 cars stuck, so we kind of knew. But because we couldn't see much of it, we didn't 100 percent grasp that there were so many cars around.
How cold was it?
Maxwell: The bus was idling, so we had heat and electricity for the outlets, so we could keep our phones and electronics charged. That was definitely a blessing.
Stroemple: I was plenty warm. I was sitting there in sweatpants and a short-sleeved T-shirt. The bus was staying plenty warm and, with all of us on there, the body heat definitely kept us comfortable the whole time.
Were you in touch with your parents?
Stroemple: Yes. Any time we had an update or heard something new, we were able to call our families and let them know. We all told our parents we loved them, you know, in case of a worst-case scenario. But we all knew the whole time we were going to be OK, because we were in the fortunate situation of being on the bus.
Was there a danger of the bus running out fuel at any point?
Maxwell: No, but we had a couple of times where the snow crawled up the exhaust pipe and we had that extra carbon-dioxide coming into the bus and we were getting lightheaded. That was really the only dangerous thing that happened. But the bus driver moved the bus a couple of times so the exhaust wouldn't be stuck in the snow. We started smelling it a little bit and a lot of people were getting lightheaded and coughing a little bit. It only happened twice, though.
Did anybody get claustrophobic?
Maxwell. Surprisingly, no.
Stroemple: There were definitely moments when people were moving around the bus to go the bathroom or to get food, where the bus felt like everybody was on top of you, trying to move. For the most part, we had a lot of open space. We were pretty lucky to have a huge bus.
How was the bathroom situation?
Maxwell: We had a bathroom on the bus, so that was another blessing. We had to use one square apiece -- we didn't want to use all the tissues because we didn't know how long we were going to be there.
Stroemple: We were really lucky to have the bathroom on the bus, rather than having to find alternative ways to -- that was definitely something that helped us stay more comfortable.
How did you kill time?
Maxwell: We played a lot of games. We made up songs. Social media definitely helped a lot. It kept us connected to the outside world. A lot of people were messaging us saying "Don't worry, you are going to get out of this. Be patient." People were sending me videos of things that made them laugh, trying to make me laugh. Family and friends were calling and texting constantly to get updates. It kept our mind off of it and passed a lot of the time.
Stroemple: Talking to one another, listening to our music, and we made up a rap and took pictures. And sometimes just sitting and looking at the snow fall to see it coming down so quickly.
Did you feel safe?
Maxwell: I never thought we were going to die or anything -- it was never like that. We were definitely fortunate to have the heat. I know other people didn't have that. I did get scared a little around the 28th hour. Coach Faustin said, "I don't know how long we are going to be here. It could be another day." And when she said those words my heart kind of dropped. We had to communicate with our parents and stay strong for our teammates and it was nerve-wracking.
Stroemple: We definitely knew we were going to get rescued. We just didn't know when. We actually started praying every hour for help, but we were also praying that others were going to be OK. We all knew that at some point we were going to get out of there. We just weren't exactly sure how or when.
Any nerves about getting on the bus again to play at Buffalo on Saturday?
Maxwell: I don't have any freakouts or anything. I hate planes, so the bus is the best thing for me.
Stroemple: Yeah, I think in the back of our minds, none of us are very excited about it. But we know that we aren't going to be stuck in the same situation again.