I graduated with the class of 2022. Although last June I had a full graduation ceremony, my high-school experience was far from normal. Personally, I did not mind the online learning or having to wear a mask. In fact, that was one of the easy parts of having a COVID high-school experience. For me, the hard part was the lack of school sports.
Thanks to volleyball being the first sport of the school season, I was granted a Grade 10 season on the junior girls’ volleyball team. COVID completely swept out my Grade 11 season and not once did anyone get the chance to touch the court. Thankfully by the time Grade 12 came around, we got to play again. However, there was no crowd allowed to cheer us on. Initially, all of us players were so grateful that we even got the chance to play we did not even think to complain about the absence of a roaring crowd. In fact, after what we had endured, not once during this time did I feel like I was being robbed. Being allowed to play again felt like such luxury. We were finally returning to some normalcy.
It was not until this September that I had the moment to reflect on this opportunity and see what a rip off that last season truly was! After graduation, the following year I enrolled at the University of Alberta. With volleyball still being a passion of mine, I decided to return to my high school and help coach the junior girls’ team. All restrictions put to rest, their first home game filled every seat in the gym. From the boys’ team to other students, to teachers and to parents, those girls had all the support. You can see it on their faces when they play and the energy they bring to the court. You can truly feel the presence of a crowd.
This is why I love school sports. It gives the students the opportunity to play a sport they love and it gives the school community the opportunity to come together. I can confidently say that I feel COVID robbed me this full opportunity. School sports is where students can meet new friends and feel involved with their school. It goes beyond the volleyball teams. Every student who missed the opportunity to be involved in a school sport through COVID was ripped off.
By the look on the girls’ faces, there’s no other feeling like playing a sport you love and having an entire community behind you.