The gradual introduction of the MHSAA into the season enabled volleyball and other fall sports to begin on Wednesday
St. Philip volleyball players practice outside at Bailey Park in Battle Creek on Wednesday, August 12, 2020. (Photo: Alyssa Keown | The Battle Creek Enquirer)
The first day of the season usually means a burned volleyball workout in a hot gym.
Instead, St. Philip players dealt with sand between their toes.
There we will be busy with university sports in 2020 in a world dominated by COVID-19.
The Michigan High School Athletic Association recently released a gradual approach to the fall sports season that allowed volleyball teams to hold their first official drills on Wednesday.
Teams in this area are not allowed to train in their gyms, which is why St. Philip hit the sand on the beach volleyball courts in Bailey Park. Other programs, like Marshall, had their volleyball teams take over part of the school tennis courts. Harper Creek was on the soccer field.
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"Today brings optimism with it, just the fact that we actually got out of here," said St. Philip's long-time volleyball coach Vicky Groat. "But you never know in this atmosphere. You only hope for the best, hope that you will eventually get to the gym and hope that we have a season. As a coach you have to have a positive attitude towards it." for the kids, but we all understand what's going on too.
"But yeah, this is the first day. The season is starting and that's a good thing. We're usually in the gym and sweating right now. Instead, we're out here in the sand and I hate sand. I only go to the beach about once a year." but we're doing the best we can out here. "
The high school football was allowed to train contactless and unpadded from Monday. The official opening day of the boys' soccer and volleyball exercises was Wednesday.
Lower-risk sports – cross-country skiing, girls' golf, boys' tennis, and girls' swimming and diving – were also allowed to begin on Wednesday.
St. Philip Junior Baily Fancher passes the ball at Bailey Park in Battle Creek, Michigan on Wednesday, August 12, 2020. (Photo: Alyssa Keown | The Battle Creek Enquirer)
"I think everyone was thrilled to get out of here and somehow start the season after all of this," said Brooke Dzwik, St. Philip's outstanding junior. "It's not the gym so we're stunned. But being out here means everyone is trying to have a season and gives us some confidence that we could have a season."
The next step in this process is to wait for the MHSAA to make a decision about the start dates for the competition. The lower-risk sports listed above are allowed to start on their traditional opening dates on August 19 or 21.
A decision on the start of the soccer, volleyball and soccer season will not be made until August 20th. The traditional start of the volleyball competition is August 21st, with some events still scheduled for this date. However, the annual Carrie Adams Memorial Tournament in St. Philip, originally scheduled for August 22nd with 24 teams, has been canceled.
Groat said she was speaking to Bronson and Harper Creek about adding a fourth team and running a small tournament on the opening weekend. With immediate effect, the MHSAA only allows four teams per location for competition, along with other security procedures.
"Every coach, sports director, wants to give children the opportunity to play," said Groat. "If we can do this great now. If we have to put it back a few weeks, okay. I just want these kids to get a chance to play. High school athletics is an extension of the classroom, and the last five months it was. " crazy about these kids. We just hope to bring them back some normalcy. "
The start of the volleyball and swimming and diving competition will depend in part on the state reopening of the indoor facilities.
By then there will be practice, and maybe even some games in the future, in places like what the St. Philip players jokingly called Bailey Park Beach.
"It's good to be back on the team. It's so important that we're out here today," said Baily Fancher, St. Philip junior. "It was fun this morning. We ran through the park, got in a bit of stamina, did some ball control here in the sand. w let's just keep our fingers crossed, we will return to a competition at some point."
Contact Bill Broderick (269) 966-0678 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @billbroderick.