ELIDA — No one is certain whether fall sports will be played this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but area volleyball teams are gearing up by participating in the Elida Volleyball Summer League in hopes of making up for some lost time and getting into game shape if the season begins on time.
Sixteen schools, both varsity and junior varsity squads, travel to Elida High School and participate in games Wednesday nights.
Traci Sneary, Elida’s head coach, brought the summer league together two weeks ago after the governor said volleyball was a non contact sport and could engage in scrimmages. This is the second week of competition for the area schools.
Prior to being allowed to scrimmage and have the league, workouts were much more difficult with the Ohio Health Department allowing only clusters of 10 students together and this made training difficult for teams.
“It has been a huge adjustment for us because we could only have 10 in a gym but I guess we were lucky because we have another gym so I would bring 10 girls here (to the main gym) and then we would have 10 girls over there. We had to make sure they went out separate doors. We had to make sure we had to sanitize everything.”
Despite the uncertainty of having a summer league, Sneary began preparation for it and started on all the paperwork and precautions in hopes of it not being canceled.
By July 6, the Ohio Department of Health categorized volleyball as a non-contact sport, paving the way for the summer league.
In addition to contacting teams, Sneary went about adhering to the mandatory requirements set forth by the ODOH that included wiping down the volleyballs after each point, making sure teams are maintaining social distancing and keeping hand sanitizers readily available.
“It has been a lot more work but I am glad we are able to do this and it gets some normalcy for the girls somewhat,” Sneary said.
One additional precaution for the players’ safety Sneary took was not allowing parents to attend the games and said it was a difficult decision.
“I’m a parent to and I totally understand,” Sneary said. “I have a seventh-grader and if I couldn’t go to her summer league and see here I would be devastated. I get it. I understand it. I don’t like it but I’m glad the girls can play. I’m glad they have something they look forward to every week and not worry what is going on out there.”
A number of summer leagues canceled and she was glad she held out and got permission from the Elida district to conduct the competition. Sneary added that see feels this is the right amount of teams so as not be overwhelming and allow for plenty of time to get teams some quality play.
Sneary said they have pool play that will be capped off by a tournament leading up to the season.
“Summer league I think is a good thing,” Sneary said. “You get to see what the girls can do, what they can’t do and what we need to work on. It gives you a good idea of game-like situations that you can’t practice.”
For these reasons summer league is vital to new head coach Ron Coleman who takes over the Lima Central Catholic varsity program. Coleman has been the junior varsity coach for 10 years but he still has to evaluate his team and see how they perform in game situations.
“That worked out very well because you get kind of tired playing each other so we were very happy how that turned out,” Coleman said.
Because he has been with the Thunderbird program for more than a decade Coleman admits the transition has been easier but he is still breaking in a team that lost several seniors.
Like all volleyball coaches Coleman has had to endure trying to get ready for a season without much prep time.
“It’s been different. It’s been kind of tough and not knowing what we were going to do, especially at the start in March and April,” Coleman said. “Now all the health guidelines are coming through and it’s still a challenge but we are able to move forward and get into the gym.”
Reach Jose Nogueras at 567-242-0468.