RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT) - Many high school fall sports seasons are on hold. VHSL programs will begin practices for fall sports in February, meaning student-athletes who take part in those activities are looking for ways to stay sharp during the hiatus. That includes volleyball players, especially in localities such as Henrico and Chesterfield Counties, which have not allowed for public school teams to begin workouts yet.
Ask many of these volleyball players, and they’ll tell you that their life can orbit around the sport.
“Volleyball is my life, basically,” said Mills Godwin’s Kaitlyn McNeel. “It’s everything I know.”
“It’s how I met a lot of my friends,” added Luke Ward, a rising junior at Cosby. “It’s how I stay active and stay healthy.”
The pandemic caused sports to grind to a halt back in March, but Richmond Volleyball Club is now back up and running, giving student-athletes a chance to hit the court. The club resumed activities in June after most players had not been able to hit a volleyball with their peers for three months.
“A lot of these kids play with each other in high school, and then sometimes they compete against each other in club,” noted Chris Wakefield, a coach with Richmond Volleyball Club and also the head coach at Mills Godwin. “Just to get back out here with one another was a blessing.”
“Volleyball has always been my social outlet, too,” said McNeel. “It’s so nice to finally have it back and just kind of do what I love again with my friends.”
Student-athletes are maneuvering through unparalleled times, so a sense of normalcy is welcomed. While this time period has them trying to stay sharp in terms of their volleyball skills, it’s also taught them lessons, both on and off the floor.
“Everyone had to learn how to deal with the challenges that came with this, and this is something they’re going to learn from and take with them as they get older,” Wakefield said.
“Make the most of the chances you have with people,” added Ward. “You never know when you won’t see them again for a long time.”
“You have to be creative,” said McNeel. “You have to find ways to get stronger, get faster without being on the volleyball court and, just anything in life, you have to kind of be creative right now.”
When these players can return to their sport to the fullest extent- playing for their high school teams with friends and family in the seats- the game is something they may treasure a little bit more.
“For three months I couldn’t play with any of the people that I like playing with,” Ward said. “It’s nice to come here and in the future play with them.”
“We realize how much we enjoy what we do,” Wakefield noted. “To have that taken away, that’s tough, and so when we do get that back I’m sure it’s going to be a sense of joy and excitement for all of the coaches involved.”
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