LDVB looks to make the most of truncated preseason
By TJ MAXWELL
Getting prepared for an upcoming season is a difficult task in normal times. Getting prepared with basically 30 days before opening day with social distancing and other safety measures in place, is even more difficult.
Copperas Cove Girl’s coordinator and head volleyball coach, Cari Lowery, knows her staff and team must take advantage of every opportunity to get ready for August 3 should the University Interscholastic League (UIL) allow play to begin as scheduled.
“We missed 70 days of offseason work with volleyball and we’re getting basically 30 days this summer,” said Lowery. “We would have had spring league and summer camp so it’s more than just the 70 hours or 70 days that could have been utilized. I told them we have to make up about five days-worth every hour we’re here to catch back up.
“We can’t waste a second.”
That task is made even harder with the graduation of most of last year’s squad and some new faces among the staff.
“We lost a large part of our varsity to graduation and I really needed that offseason and spring, but our kids have been working the whole time,” said Lowery. “They are very coachable, they are very smart, and they have a great work ethic. We’re not going to be where we want to be or where we might have been if we get to start August 3, but we’re going to get there.”
Lowery acknowledges this has been a tough adjustment to social distancing guidelines.
“It’s definitely a challenge,” she said. “This is, hopefully, a once in a lifetime situation. Teachers and everybody just had to learn on the move.
“We’re glad we’re getting to work with them. It’s just a different situation. I’m a pretty hands-on coach so it’s hard to stay away from them and not coach like you have for 26 years.”
Despite missing so much time, Lowery feels the dedication of her players has them slightly ahead of the curve.
“My kids from volleyball have been great,” she said. “I sent them workouts and goal sheets. They’ve been reviewing film and turning in workout videos to me online three to five a week the whole time. So, they’ve been doing some work, but work at home is not like work at school with your coach.
“It has affected our timing a little bit. They haven’t hit off of a live set or passed the ball to someone off the serve in a long time. You can only pass the ball on the side of your house so much and it’s just not quite the same when your daddy is throwing you the ball or whatever.”
The uncertainty of the COVID-19 outbreak may cause all kinds of hiccups along the way, including possibly wiping away the season completely.
“The biggest concern is if the season will be able to be played,” said Lowery. “There are a lot of variables. Are there going to be places we can’t go because they shut the school down or they have too many cases in that town? Are they not going to be able to come to us because they not being allowed to travel? Tournaments are going to be different and transportation is going to be different. How many people are they going to let be on a bus if they have to be six feet apart? There is talk that we’re going to have to wear masks during timeouts. Are we going to be able to have fans in the stands?
“I think early on they’re probably going to limit who can come for each kid. Maybe they’ll let two people come for each player and everyone is going to six feet apart. We could be in a gym playing with us, the other team, and the officials.”
Lowery brings back experience in some key positions with the return of Al-State libero junior Emma Wasiak, senior setter Emily Vanderpoel, senior hitter Larissa Melendez and junior middle blocker Kyra Gaston. She will need help from her youngers players to get ready for the newly formed District 12-6A that welcomes back Bryan and says goodbye to Waco High and Waco Midway.
“We’ve got some big, smart, and coachable young kids and I don’t know that we’re going to have a lot of seniors on the floor this year, which is good in the long run,” she said. “If you’ve got to do that, this is the best time to have that.
“We’ve got some power. The kids are working hard, and I think we’re going to be okay.
I would feel a lot better if we had that 70 days we missed, but it is what it is.”
Lowery feels the athletic teams are going to have an advantage early on but, as district approaches, it will come down to who puts in the work.
“I feel like early on some of the wins from everybody are going to come with the teams that just have the best athletes,” she said. “Then it’s going to be about who is working hard to improve every day.
“We had about 130 kids show up the last two weeks and that’s awesome.
Lowery feels she has the right group for that.
“I see how hard they’re working and how focused they are,” she said. “They were in touch with me or I was in touch with them every single day that we were out. Their commitment, discipline and focus are very impressive for 16- or 17-year-old kids. “It was hard as an adult to stay focused and motivated. I’ve never had that much time off in my entire life. I could put all my days off together in my coaching career and it wouldn’t have been that much time.”