Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, this year presented many challenges for the girls on the TJ volleyball team.
This year, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, many TJ sports have had to make adjustments to how they play, including volleyball. Overall, the TJ volleyball team had a great season, but it was still very different from past seasons.
This year TJ volleyball won a total of 10 games and lost three in the regular season. They lost to East, Loveland, and North. The team mostly played schools within Denver Public Schools due to the pandemic, including Denver South, Northfield, Lincoln, George Washington, and DSST: Green Valley Ranch. They also played Loveland, a school outside of Denver Public Schools. Olivia Oss, a junior on the varsity team said, “We were definitely underdogs to begin with because of the loss of 10 seniors from the 2019 season, but now we have proved ourselves through our 10-3 record.” Overall, the TJ volleyball team accomplished a lot this season including winning 10 of their games and making it to regionals. While this season was very successful, the pandemic also created many challenges for the TJ volleyball team.
One of the many challenges the girls faced was having to wear masks during games and practice. “We also have to wear masks, which is perfectly understandable, but it makes it harder to participate in difficult drills,” said Oss. Another junior on the varsity team, Shannon Graham said, “The masks have been the hardest part, but at least we still have a season.” While masks were the biggest challenge, another challenging part of the season caused by the COVID-19 pandemic was the number of games the team played each week. Because the season was shortened, Graham said, “We’ve also had to pack in games, which caused us to have three to four games in certain weeks.” Additionally, the team only had a couple practices before their first game, which Oss claimed “led to some difficulty connecting as a team initially.” While the COVID-19 pandemic created many challenges, ultimately all of the girls were just happy to be back in the TJ gym playing the sport they love.
Due to the pandemic, many of the girls on the team had not been back in the school since last March, unless they were doing in person learning, which many of them were not. Oss described being back at TJ as “bittersweet because of how much our season changed.” She also talked about some of her favorite features of TJ volleyball that were lost because of the pandemic. Oss said, “Usually we have team bonding, long bus rides to away games, and locker room jam sessions, but because of COVID-19 restrictions, some of the best parts of our season were lost.” Graham also talked about how she missed having crowds of people at the games. She recalled, “It was weird at first, but it made me realize how much I missed being at the school. Hopefully we will be able to pack the house for home games next year.” Overall, the TJ volleyball girls were excited to be able to play this year, but they are hopeful for a normal season in the future.
While this TJ volleyball season was very different than usual due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the team was very happy just to be back in the gym playing a sport they all adore. Everyone in the TJ volleyball program is hopeful for a more normal volleyball season next school year.
The 2020-2021 TJ volleyball varsity team. photo by Jordan Graham