BALLSTON SPA – Super Bowl halftime shows are a great time to listen to some music, stretch the legs, get a little more food, go to the bathroom or even agree to buy a bus.
That’s what a trio of Ballston Spa senior boys’ lacrosse players – Matt King, John Serina and Max Christiansen – did on Feb. 7, 2021. They haven’t driven “Sally” all that far yet, but she’s already taken them on journeys involving their education and lacrosse careers.
Sally and the boys will be part of the Scotties’ home Section II Class B quarterfinal against Troy at 4:30 p.m. Tuesday.
“We were up at John’s [house],” King said. “It was during halftime and we were on TikTok, and we saw a bus, and we were, like, ‘You know what? That’s a really good idea. Let’s go to Florida with a bus.’”
The first issue was, obviously, cost. The players spent some time trying to find the right deal. They found one around the end of school last year.
“Seniors in high school don’t have much money, so we were on a little bit of a budget, but you know, we wiggled it through and found the right deal,” Serina said.
“It was up north, to the east side of Lake George,” King recalled. The guy wanted to do travel nursing for his son. I guess that didn’t work out, so he said, ‘I’ll [sell] it to you for a good deal. Take it off my hands.’ And we got lucky.”
The trio bought the 2004 bus for $3,000. All three players had worked to raise the funds – Serina at Zappone Chrysler Jeep Dodge RAM, King at the Adirondack Hotel and Christiansen at Lake George Boat Rentals.
The bus had a Ford E-450 engine and 150,000 miles on it, and they considered it a pretty good deal. They also had agreed long before the purchase that the bus’ name would be Sally, and she was parked in a garage at Serina’s house.
At the time, the players all had temporary licenses, but at least they could drive it. The bus was just short enough that they didn’t need commercial licenses.
“It was pretty funny driving around in a bus on a temporary license,” Serina said.
Next came making the bus their own.
“So we basically just gutted the whole inside out,” Christiansen said. “It had a ton of seats in it. We made it an empty shell and then we put new flooring in, a Futon in the front and then a couple temporary things, a nice TV up front and bunk beds in the back.”
They also decided to paint the exterior of the bus white. As King said, “It takes a long time to paint a yellow bus white, a long time!”
“There’s yellow everywhere, we still find it,” Serina added, shaking his head in a resigned manner.
The trio then decided to add Sally to their educational experience. The boys all take a class in Hudson Valley Community College’s Tec-Smart program, offered by Ballston Spa, in Malta, where varsity boys’ lacrosse coach Lucas Snow teaches. He chuckles at the memory.
“We have a project, and I’m pretty sure the solution came before the problem we asked them to solve,” Snow said. “They’re taking on micro homes, trying to find different ways for people to travel for business that don’t necessarily need to be in one spot.”
One of the professors in the program recommended that the boys reach out to companies for solar panels for Sally, to try to power the heating/cooling system.
“We ended up getting a couple of solar panels donated from Apex. They donated 520-watt solar panels for us. We were looking to incorporate that into the idea and get self-sufficient power. So that’s pretty cool,” Serina said.
If Sally was part of the classroom, she deserved an extracurricular, too. An adult donated a Ballston Spa lacrosse banner, and on home game days, one of the boys drives the bus to a prominent spot in the parking lot near the field, the banner is hung, and the unofficial team mascot is ready for the game. The team’s offense is even named after her.
“Family and parents we know from other teams ask, ‘What’s that bus doing out there?’ We’re, like, ‘Oh, that’s Sally. It’s our offense, too. That’s what we just beat you with.’ Or something like that,” King said.
There’s still that trip to Florida planned, but it gets looser by the week, King explained. The boys are collecting donations through gofundme.com [Build A Bus] for the trip. They refer to it as the Siphon Sally Support Page. There is also a Siphon Sally Instagram account.
“We want to take off two weeks in the summer, and honestly, just see where we end up,” he said. “We have a lot of family friends on the East Coast, and they’re all just offering us, ‘Hey, you can come to our house. We’ll cook you some food on your way down to Florida.’ At this point, we’re picking out where we want to go. This is the fun part.”
“We don’t really have a plan,” Christiansen added. “Just kind of head down the highway and start heading south.”
Stan Hudy contributed to this story.