The Volleyball Season That Never Quite Came To Pass

wilson crossnet volleyballAs I’ve written about before, my youngest, K-, 17, is in a local club volleyball league. The intention is that they practice twice/week and then play tournaments against other teams every weekend during the season. We signed up for what’s known as a “travel team” which should have meant we would go to a few out-of-state tournaments too. Mucho $$ for these programs, but somehow the combination of exhausted parents and the darn pandemic have added up to the most disappointing and underachieving season ever. So much so that I now wonder if K-‘s going to just bail on a sport she loves as a consequence.

When the pandemic hit, the twice/weekly practices dropped down to once per week since the county health people didn’t want too many athletes in the sports facility at a time. Then the tournaments. I suppose in hindsight it should be no surprise that things would be canceled left and right as the season progressed, particularly since “local” means all of Colorado. That meant some teams were from very strict counties where masks, endless hand hygiene, and an abundance of caution were the order of the day, while other teams from more rural areas were far more skeptical about the Covid guidelines and consequently didn’t wear masks. Surprise, the end result – whether from cautious players who were infectious or carefree players – was that tournaments were canceled, often at the last minute.

Last weekend we were supposed to head to Kansas City for a huge tournament that the girls were all quite excited about, a tournament spread across the entire KC convention center with 72 simultaneous games in play at any given time. That’s a lot! We had planned a road trip (it’s an easy 8 1/2 hour drive) and were even planning on some Easter Sunday fun while remote. Until 48 hours before our departure this email arrived:

“Last week we were notified that our girls were “possibly” exposed to covid and that [the health department] was working on doing some contract tracing as well as waiting to see if the girl who tested positive was positive for the new variant of COVID. Yes, the possible exposure took place over a week ago so you would think this all would have been done sooner but with the number of kids, states, and counties represented, it has taken longer than expected to get to the bottom of it.”

Ugh, right?

girl serving, club volleyball, colorado
Pre-pandemic, when they could play sports without masks.

The upshot was that the Dept of Health insisted “refrain from travel until 14 days have passed (April 3rd, 2021)” which would have been the first day of the tournament itself. Meaning that we’d all be traveling on the 2nd. Result: No go. Our participation in the tournament canceled. Subsequently, I have not heard of anyone on the team being sick, but… Kansas City: 0.

What made this particularly frustrating was that two weeks earlier we were supposed to go to another big tournament in Las Vegas, Nevada. Another fun trip and even if we stayed in our hotel room when we weren’t at the tournament, at least there are tons of great restaurants in Vegas! Confusingly, this wasn’t canceled because of Covid, but because the head of the program surveyed parents to get a sense of if people wanted to go or not “during a pandemic” and found that enough said no that our participation was canceled. Remember, this is a “travel team” and every parent knew when they signed up that it would involve travel to tournaments.

volleyball facility interior - greeley colorado usa volleyball
Volleyball tournament facility, pre-pandemic.

At this point, we have managed no travel games at all and our in-state tournaments have been limited to players only, so we parents couldn’t even sit in the stands, masked up, and watch. Even then, one out of three tournaments has also been canceled anyway, so of the perhaps ten tournaments we were hoping K- would enjoy, she’s played at maybe three in the entire season. Practice is down to once per week, and it’s no surprise her attention and energy have shifted elsewhere.

Is it anyone’s fault? Not really. I still don’t understand why we didn’t participate in the Vegas tournament, but I imagine parents were thinking “Kansas City is closer and less expensive, let’s do that one instead” never suspecting we’d be barred from travel due to a possible exposure the week prior. All I know is that what could have been a great season of volleyball that would have elevated K-‘s game and given her a lot of pleasure and confidence-building activities, we instead got to bemoan what didn’t transpire. Chalk it up to the pandemic, perhaps, but I think it’s the pandemic plus fear, sometimes not even based on reality.

In any case, it’ll be a real challenge to get her to sign up for club volleyball next year, that’s for sure. But perhaps so it goes…

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