The Riverside girls’ volleyball season is looking very different this year. For starters Coach, Bryan Gee says there is sadly no season at all. BC School Sports has put in place COVID-19 protocols to create the safest possible environment for young athletes. No tournament play, controlled socially distanced training, and no more than 25 athletes in the gym. These rules are harsh, but they are vital for the program to stay afloat during these COVID-19 dominant times. No tournament play means no Provincial Championships; the grade 11 players were hoping to add their third banner to the Riverside walls this year. Riverside Grade 11 athlete, Ava Poc is disappointed, but says “we’ll just have to wait another year to reclaim our title.”
With COVID-19 tearing apart what would have been a promising Volleyball season, Gee has maintained a positive outlook. “This is a great opportunity for the girls to focus on skills that would normally be pushed aside,” said Gee. The training is not the only thing that has affected the players, they are no longer allowed to high five, shake hands, and come within six feet of each other during water breaks. Although the BC School Sports has not made masks mandatory, the Riverside Volleyball community has decided to wear them to make the safest training environment possible.
Dr. Bonnie Henry announced on November 8 that restrictions will be tightened on things such as social gatherings, community sports, fitness centers and classes. Essentially, Henry is saying that all community sports must go back to Phase One for the next two weeks. Phase One was in effect during July and August, and it included socially distance training, masks on in the training facilities, and no more than six athletes per court. This announcement had little to no effect on the Riverside Volleyball training because they were already training under these rules. Riverside athletes know this is hard on the coaches as well. “The administers and coaches are doing the best they can to create a competitive yet safe environment for athletes,” said Poc.
Masks are mandatory in almost every store you go into nowadays and the Riverside hallways and gym are no different. Masks must be worn during warming up, cooling down, and training. “Masks were difficult to get used to at first, but I almost don’t even notice it anymore; the struggle is remembering a training mask when I leave for school,” said grade 9 athlete, Abby Way. Way says it’s a small price she’s willing to play if it means she’ll be on the volleyball court with her teammates in these isolating times. Although the mask is not 100% effective by itself, alongside socially distanced training, the athletes are doing their part to keep COVID-19 cases down in the community.
Not only will COVID-19 affect this season, but it might have a greater effect on seasons to come and even future athletic scholarships for grade 11 and 12 athletes. Grade 9 is normally a year where attendance at the volleyball tryout is high with kids wanting to try a new sport, make friends, and get involved in the Riverside Rapid community. With limited numbers, there was no room for “new-bees” in this highly competitive gym. According to Poc, this would have been the season where post-secondary coaches could have had a chance to come to watch people play in person, but sadly, Poc will just have to wait because there is no sign of spectators being allowed in gyms anytime soon. Even with these athletes doing their part on and off the court to help limit the spread of COVID-19, the future of their season still isn’t looking too hopeful.