Shelly DeBraga drove the Pershing County football and volleyball teams to their competitions in West Wendover.
Shelly DeBraga drove the Pershing County football and volleyball teams to their competitions in West Wendover.
If you want to learn about a high school sports team, talk to their bus driver. During the school week, Shelly DeBraga drives the Unionville/Imlay route, 245 miles a day, four days a week, a grand total of 980 miles. She runs a tight ship and loves her job, rising at 3 a.m. to begin work at 4:10 a.m. sharp. 

On Friday, March 12, DeBraga put in some extra hours. She drove the Pershing County Mustang volleyball team to their game in West Wendover, a nine-hour round trip. Due to Covid restrictions, the drivers, athletes and coaches all wore masks. It didn’t slow them down.

“They all talked and had fun on the way there. On the way back, it was dark. We stopped in Elko so they could eat. After that, they were pooped out and slept the rest of the way home,” said DeBraga.

On Friday, April 2, DeBraga made the same trip with the football team. Due to their larger numbers, the Mustangs did not stop for lunch. Instead, Coach Mike Brooks brought enough food to feed a football team. He did not forget DeBraga.

“The coaches brought me a lunch that weighed about 10 pounds,” she said. “That was considerate of them.”

There was plenty for everyone. Still, we’re talking about enormous appetites. The athletes wanted a familiar treat.

“When we stopped in Carlin, they all got sunflower seeds, the one thing I don’t allow on my bus,” said DeBraga.

Sunflower seeds are anathema to bus drivers the world over, for obvious reasons. To get to the seed, connoisseurs crack the shells between their teeth and spit out the hulls. The body cannot digest the shell fragments.

“Mike told them not to eat them, and I didn’t find a single shell on my bus afterward,” said DeBraga. “I was happy about that. The boys listen to the coaches and respect them. It’s reflected in their manners.”

Joan Henderson drove the soccer team to West Wendover on Friday, March 19. She is currently vacationing in Idaho and was not available for comment.

“In closing, I know the teams put in a lot of hard work and hours to be successful,” said DeBraga. “When they got off the bus, they thanked me, and that is appreciated by all of us who drive them. We have four drivers, including myself, and I know I speak for all of us when I say we couldn’t ask for a nicer, more polite bunch of kids.”