Extreme weather left the Rainmakers senior boys team stranded on a train for more than 27 hours. Their destination? Prince George, which is normally a 10-hour train ride away.
“Last night we slept on a chair basically. We were supposed to get to Prince George at about 10 o’clock at night, but we’re still three hours out near Endako,” coach Mel Bishop said. “That’s a long time to be on a train. We could’ve flown to Australia in that time.”
A Greyhound bus came to the rescue top pick up the delayed train passengers who had been trying to reach Prince George from Prince Rupert since 8 a.m. Wednesday, Feb. 7. They arrived the following night.
In an email, media relations for VIA Rail Mylène Bélanger said the train had been stopped in Endako since Wednesday night Feb. 7. They were experiencing major delays due to heavy railway traffic caused by extreme weather conditions.
“VIA Rail’s crew members have been taking care of the 26 passengers and making sure they are safe, warm and have enough food. Roads were previously closed for many hours due to the winter snowstorm affecting the area,” Bélanger wrote.
At 11 a.m. when the Northern View spoke to Bishop on Feb. 8, they had just been allowed to get off the train for the first time 20 minutes earlier. The senior boys were stretching their legs at the Endako station and entertaining themselves by playing a few rounds of pool. Luckily, the team packed a lot of food ahead of the trip and VIA Rail is passing out sandwiches.
The team was on route to play against Prince George’s Duchess Park in what may be their final competition before zone tournaments for the B.C. championship — if they make it there in time for the 3 p.m. game.
With good intentions, the Rainmakers left Prince Rupert the day before their match, planning to get a good night’s sleep. The first delay of their trip came near the port, where a tree covered in ice fell on the train. They waited there for two and a half hours before continuing on.
Bishop hoped the game could be rescheduled to 7 p.m. that night, but other plans have already had to be cancelled. The team was scheduled to tour UNBC and have a shooting practice with the university’s head coach at 11 a.m. The Rainmakers cancelled their hotel, rental car booking and now hope they don’t also have to forfeit the game.
“I do think it’s really hard to play off of a bus, a plane, or a train in this case,” said Sarah McChesney, team member Liam’s sister. She’s been in touch with her brother through text messages. “That’s why they were scheduled to get in there yesterday night so they would have a good sleep in the hotel and then get up and have breakfast and be ready to play. Hopefully, they can rally and put this whole 26-hour experience behind them.”
“I’m just hoping we get these two games in. It’s a lot of money to spend,” Bishop said.
The team arrived in Prince George to play an exhibition game followed by a game the next day.
To read more on how the Rainmakers did in their game turn to page A13.