By Lailah Gladney, Clarion Managing Editor
During a season like no other, the 2021-2022 Kennedy Varsity Girls’ volleyball team has adapted to current circumstances, and are determined to continue the season securely and powerfully.
Last school year, only 5 months ago, the team experienced a short and restricted season of only four games. This season began in June, with conditioning and practicing off the court, and on the grass of the Kennedy main quad. This was done to align with CDC suggestions of maintaining a distance of at least 6 feet, and was contrary to the team’s customary use of the gym.
At the start of the regular season, COVID-19 presented many changes. For starters, as opposed to being cheered on by peers, classmates, teachers, and staff, the audience of home games at Kennedy has been limited mostly to members of players’ families.
Volleyball is one of Kennedy’s most attended team sports, and a shift as drastic as this gives grounds for players to feel a change. The lack of energy and enthusiasm from friends and casual audience members this season has affected players. Varsity Senior Elissar Houjeij said, “The fact that a lot of people can’t come to the games really sucks, and I feel like there’s a total shift in energy than previous years in the game.”
In addition to constrained attendance, all volleyball teams were required to wear face masks during playing, and when in the gym at all times, a continuation of last year’s policy. This change is similar to the schoolwide mandate students, teachers, and staff have adopted since Spring of last year.
This is the primary reason Houjeji feels the “mask thing doesn’t, to me at least, I don’t feel a difference. I’d rather be safe than sorry.”
She takes a stand that many others have taken on California’s mask mandate within K-12 schools. A survey polled by Spectrum News in the final week of August 2021 concluded that 81% of Californians support the mask mandate within K-12 schools, while only 19% oppose it.
Through these times, the Cougars have been able to have a record of 1 win, and 11 losses. Though the season began with a rough patch, coming out of a school year of unpredictability, the team is at a turning point in their season, and hope to let everyone know.
Having pushed forward this year, the Cougars finished off their remaining games strongly, and unified. Using team bonding as a catalyst for progression, the team used their faith in themselves, and their ability to make this a season like no other.
Houjeij noted, “Lately we’ve been working really well together and we just need to keep doing that.”