“Hitting” Back Into the Zone: Playing Volleyball Club Qualifiers In a Pandemic

Elise Jensen , Reporter


A year ago on March 12th, 2020, Colorado Crossroads (a prominent national qualifier held in our very own Denver) was canceled due to COVID-19 only 28 hours before it was set to start. A year later, national qualifiers are back in full swing across the nation, however, a lot has changed this time around. With sanitizing equipment, debates over whether to wear masks during games and overall heightened concerns about safety, this year is very different from the last. 


Players from Niwot’s Varsity Volleyball team have attended these tournaments and are offering their insight into changes that come with these new times. Grace Demmel (Sophomore) says, “Not only do we all have to wear masks, but our games are timed so often that we don’t get to finish playing before we’re cut off. The whole experience is really frustrating. It can get very annoying if some people don’t wear their masks properly, or if we get cut off in a really tight game.” 


A major part of why these tournaments are still able to continue in light of our nation’s current COVID case rate is because of where the USA Volleyball Organization chooses to hold these tournaments. Most of these tournaments are held in states with less strict mask mandates and more relaxed COVID regulations, many being held in Nebraska, Texas, Kentucky and Florida. The result of this is that players need to travel out of state in order to play. However, players like Natasha (Senior), see a different point of view. She says, “Despite the fact that we have been in quarantine for almost a year, having tournaments gives those involved in sports something to look forward to, something to bring back the times before the pandemic. To me, having tournaments, and even just practices, serve as an escape from the present.” 


Even though players are allowed to practice and play in tournaments, there are so many regulations that go along with the experience. All players and coaches must wear masks at all times, even if you have specific health conditions that prohibit you (this is true in Colorado). No spectators are allowed at the tournaments, balls are sanitized between each set, and players must stay on their respective side of their court. But even with these regulations, players are still dying to play and struggling to get more playing time than they already have. Despite all of the regulations that follow these decisions to play and practice during a time of a global pandemic, these tournaments return a sense of normalcy for a lot of players across the nation.