The men’s volleyball team had been looking forward to potentially being three-peat title champions before its season was cut.
Although the coronavirus has halted sports programs across the nation, the volleyball team remains in high spirits, even using the down time as motivation.
“In a sense, it has motivated us,” middle blocker Shane Holdaway said. “We are hungry, we can not wait to go out and compete and show the fans that nothing can hold us back.”
The players have been staying fit by challenging each other on their team’s group chat. For example, one player will record himself working out and will send it to teammates to see who can do the workout better.
Holdaway credits his wife for helping him get through the pandemic.
“I am pretty fortunate. Some of us have it easier because we have our families here,” Holdaway said. “We have players who are from Europe who came here to play volleyball and they are in a different country, far away from family.”
Middle blocker Simon Andersen is one of those players who came from Europe.
“This summer was definitely different than what I had planned,” Andersen said. “I wanted to spend the summer in the States, but not like this.”
Andersen has not been able to see his family in a long time and doesn’t know when he will get to see them again.
He has been keeping physically fit by packing his backpack with rocks and going on runs. When he is not working out, Andersen joined an online coding class to keep his mind sharp.
Being a back-to-back champion, Andersen was looking forward to the season and could not wait to get back out there and play with his brothers.
“I miss the connections that were made between my teammates and myself,” Andersen said.“I miss sharing the love and I miss playing the game in general.”
He said that the team has frequent Zoom calls where they have their team bonding activities and team meetings.
“We have a lot of zoom meetings,” Andersen said. “That is how we keep in touch.”
Head coach Alan Knipe said he could not be more proud of his boys.
“They are a motivated group of guys, they do not need me telling them what they need to do,” Knipe said. “They were given at home workout equipment by the training staff and from what I hear they are constantly using them.”
At first, Knipe was not thrilled with the news of a canceled season.
“It was very disappointing at first,” Knipe said. “But now looking back and seeing the numbers of cases, we understand the risk and understand why the season had to be cancelled.”
Knipe said he misses the interactions with his players and the daily impacts he had on his players.
“As coaches and educators, the impact we have on these guys is a lot. I miss interacting with them and seeing them grow on and off the volleyball court,” Knipe said.. “I love them.”
Knipe and staff are keeping consistent communication with the players during quarantine. Whether it be by phone call or zoom meeting, Knipe said he wants to make sure his players know they are not alone.
“We have some European players here who have no family,” said Knipe. “We communicated more and more with those players to make sure that they are not alone.”