The Net Product: No One Could Have Predicted This
Just a few weeks ago we sat in the gym at Robert C. Byrd high school and watched our girls play against teams from around the state in a Club Volleyball Tournament. Excitement for the upcoming season was starting to build, our girls played great, and nobody could possibly predict what loomed just around the corner. And just like that, a disease hits and life as we know it and our future as we would have predicted was changed. No sports in West Virginia, none in the United States, and none in the world.
As a result of Covid-19 we are left without March Madness; gone will be the beautiful sights and sounds of the Masters Golf Tournament and the pageantry of the Kentucky Derby. And in its place, we have uncertainty, fear, and sadly, many will have to deal with tragedy caused by the disease. We all realize this, but as coaches, the Mrs. and I are trained to find positives when life or sports throw us a curve ball. We listen to our leaders, follow the rules, and try hard to be good team players and do our part not to become sick or make anyone else sick. Sports has taught us the values of those things. We also look for humor in the darkest times, and since we have been in isolation with just us or the grandkids, we have thought about how all this might eventually impact the sport we love to coach.
Once this passes, sports will return and soon our girls will be back playing volleyball for their school. Or so I hope. And when that happens, perhaps the “high-five” following a great play will be gone. In its place will be the “high elbow bump” which honestly won’t quite be the same. No longer will I call a time out and get on them for huddling together on the court like a herd of cattle under a shade tree on a hot summer day. If I want them to spread out, I will simply use a term they should be familiar with “Girls, how about some “social separation” out there. Please?” They will get it. Six feet apart and no closer. When a girl sends a high serve over the net instead of one that just races barely over the top of the net, three words should suffice to make my point: Hey, “flatten the curve.” If a player is not playing to her ability and is taken out, there will be no lengthy explanation. I will just say, “Don’t look at me, you self- quarantined yourself on the bench.” There will be times when the girls play extremely hard and the ball just doesn’t bounce their way and heads will be down after a loss. My words then will be, “Hey, you all played great, it just wasn’t our night. Heads up, it’s not like it’s a “global pandemic”, now is it?” And finally, “Way to give us a spark tonight. You were the vaccination we needed.”
To all sports fans, hang on. In due time you will be back in the stands pulling for your favorite teams or athletes. Granted, you may forever disinfect the bleacher before sitting down, but nevertheless you will be there. When will that happen in West Virginia? Oh, I could assume but you know what happens when you assume. All I can say for certain is that the WVSSAC has little choices. They can cancel basketball and all of spring sports. But they can’t choose a start-up date until a decision has been made about when we go back to school. Once that decision has been made, all options can be looked at.
Until then, our young people will just have to live in the world that many of us baby boomers lived in. Shoot at the outdoor basketball court minus a tossback or air-conditioning. Find a dirt field or grassy area and throw and hit balls on their own. Jog on streets instead of a soft track. They can do it and I’ve already witnessed them doing it. Hang in there, sports fans. In the meantime, we may add another team rule for the volleyball girls: “No uncovered sneezes.”