Just as has happened with many facets of high school life, the coronavirus has turned the Broad Run volleyball team’s plans for the year upside down. Out of consideration for the athletes’ health, the 2020-2021 volleyball season has been delayed half a year. Many athletes are disappointed with this decision, although it also has a couple of positive side effects. Everyone’s life, in some ways or the other, is affected by the pandemic. Some effects are beneficial, while others are disappointing. That especially applies to the volleyball athletes at Broad Run High School.
With so much uncertainty surrounding the pandemic, it is not easy for the coaches to adapt to this new practice system. The head coach of Broad Run’s volleyball team, Petty Roberts, said, “I have to create tentative plans and plans with options. I have to prepare for anything.”
It’s important for coaches and athletes to prioritize health over their chosen sport. “Everyone needs to do their due diligence. [You need to] wash your hands before and after workouts/practices, social distance, be honest with the self-declaration questions you’re asked. If you’re not feeling well, please stay home,” Coach Roberts said.
Even when all players and coaches feel healthy, Coach Roberts needs to make sure each athlete is safe during the workouts by conducting various safety measures. “The athletes are 6 to 10 feet away from each other. Hand sanitizer is available for everyone to use. [The] arrival and departures [time] to workouts are staggered. Coaches are wearing their masks at all times,” Coach Roberts said. These safety restrictions can negatively impact the coaches’ and athletes’ experiences during practice. “Some of the difficulties are being able to keep my distance and [speak] to the athletes while wearing a mask. It’s harder to communicate with them,” Coach Roberts said. Freshman athlete Sofia Panagopoulos added, “Now we wear masks entering and exiting the building, [and use] hand sanitizers. We are not allowed to get close to our teammates.”
Unfortunately, there are also athletes that are not able to play volleyball during the ongoing quarantine. In order to help them, some athletes and coaches give tips on how to stay active and/or practice volleyball without putting themselves at risk. “The athletes were given the workouts that are done when we’re together. The workouts can be done at home along with any cardio,” Coach Roberts said. “With volleyball, [the athletes] can work on ball control at home. If they have something to hit again, they can work on their serves or hitting.”
Aside from the workouts that coaches give to the athletes, some athletes also run in order to stay active. “[I] look up training to do. [You can also] try to eat a lot of healthy food and not eat too much junk food,” one athlete said.
One the positive side, the COVID-19 helps athletes to reconsider their view on volleyball. “[When I had practices before this virus,] I took them for granted. I was never really excited whenever we had practice. But now, not being able to play volleyball gives me a new appreciation for this sport. I value playing time and being able to be with my teammates,” one athlete said. Panagopoulos also recognizes the power of what a high five brings to the whole team. “I didn’t know how much I value being able to touch people, like high fiving them. How much more energy it gives you after being able to high five everyone–high five the other team, high five your coaches, or a fist bump.”
Despite the delayed VHSL season, there are still other options for athletes who want to be playing volleyball right now. Panagopoulos said of the delayed season, “I kind of accept it. The travel season is still going on normally, so I still get to do the whole season. But for school, I was kind of upset because it was my first year being able to play for high school. We still do conditioning outside for school.”
With COVID-19 still spreading and thousands of new cases every day in the U.S, all of Broad Run should be joining the volleyball team in crossing our fingers and hoping that everything gets back to normal soon.