The University of Central Arkansas football team will play seven away games this year and travel over 13,000 total miles during the 2019 season.
In comparison, the UCA Bears traveled just over 4,500 miles during the entire 2018 football season.
The distance for the 2019 season includes a trip to the University of Hawaii for a game on September 21st, which is about an 8,000-mile round trip, making it the longest distance the Bears will have to travel this year. This is the first time the Bears have played at Aloha Stadium in 10 years. In 2009, the Bears came back to Conway with a 25-20 loss.
The other six games only make up about 38% of the total miles that the Bears football team will travel this year. The games include matches against Bowling Green University, Austin Peay University, Nicholls State University, Northwestern State University, Lamar University and University of the Incarnate Word.
The longest trip the Bears will have to make for one of these six games is to the University of the Incarnate Word in San Antonio, Texas, which is about 614 miles from Conway.
The heavy travel schedule will provide challenges for the players as well as new experiences. Dalton Withrow, the Director of Equipment Operation for UCA, said the team communicates regularly with teachers. Withrow also said UCA has a great academic staff who check in weekly with student-athletes and that the team has specified study times.
Concerning the team’s trip to Hawaii, Withrow said it has been a “big topic around the team”.
“We’re definitely excited, some of our guys have never been on an airplane before,” Withrow said. “It’s a once in a lifetime opportunity.”
The Bears will also play five games at Estes Stadium this year. The first home game will be against Abilene Christian University on September 14th. The other four home games will be against McNeese State University, Sam Houston State University, Southeastern Louisiana University, and Stephen F. Austin. The games against Southeastern Louisiana University and Stephen F. Austin are on back-to-back weeks, giving the Bears a break from traveling in November.
UCA will be looking to improve from its 6-5 record last year. According to 247sports.com, UCA is bringing in the second best 2019 recruiting class in the Southland Conference. The Bears are also bringing in two wide receivers who will be transferring from the University of Arkansas, juniors Tobias Enlow and Jarrod Barnes.
This could be considered a rebuilding year as well as a year to improve their record because of the strong recruiting class and the 48 freshmen and redshirt-freshmen on the 2019 roster, which is more than the total amount of junior and senior class players.