I'm now entering the phase of life known as being a travel parent. While I had hoped it would be travel basketball, it turned out to be travel volleyball. And I learn something new each week.

Two weeks ago in Red Lodge, I learned why you have one girl with a different colored jersey. I thought maybe she lost hers or just couldn't find it that day. Not the case.

And girls who aren't playing get to be line judges. And any net touching is a no-no.

For the games in places like Lewistown or Red Lodge, I prefer to go up the night before. I sleep better and I don't keep waking up, thinking that I will sleep through my alarm. For those of you who have never been to one of these tournaments, don't plan anything else that day.

I have a cooler in my pickup so we've got plenty of water, Gatorade, and snacks so the kids can have refreshment when they need it.

But I'm looking for tips from those of you who have already been a sports parent. What do you pack? Did you buy one of those folding stadium seats? Does that make it more comfortable?

I've seen some parents who have smaller kids bring complete entertainment kits. Items include iPads, coloring books, play dough, along with some string cheese and juice boxes.

I thought that I wouldn't enjoy myself at these tournaments as much as I do. But a lot of the other parents that I don't see much outside of volleyball season attend and it's fun to compare notes on how well the girls are playing that game.

I also like the drives. For some reason, I don't just go for Sunday drives like I used to. I'd zoom to Red Lodge with a stop at the Grizzly Bar, or even run up to Lewistown and play some golf.

And the drives home from volleyball are generally quiet because the girls are asleep shortly after we leave town.

Headwaters State Park, Three Forks, Montana

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