1002-ECHS at Holt VB 19

Caleb Turrentine / The Herald Holtville coach Alison Franklin looks on during Tuesday’s match at Elmore County.

Although volleyball seasons do not officially begin until August, teams often put in plenty of work during the weeks leading up to the first official practice. Summer camps and playdates are helpful to discover strengths and weaknesses before entering regular season play. Now that challenge becomes more difficult with the latest update from the AHSAA.

In a release last Thursday, the AHSAA announced all summer competitions are canceled which includes volleyball playdates.

“We want to take everyone’s safety into consideration but of course, the girls are disappointed,” ECHS coach Kim Moncrief said. “We always look forward to those competitions.”

Moncrief said the announcement did not come as too much of a surprise as it came on the heels of Auburn canceling its annual camp, forcing the Panthers to miss their biggest summer competition of the year. 

Elmore County usually gets approximately two tournaments worth of matches during the summer and Moncrief said she has seen big improvements from those playdates in the past. But now the Panthers will have to find a way to improve without the summer competitions. 

“Hopefully we can get something done in the gym and try to replicate some of that,” Moncrief said. “We will have to work hard on the competitive part of practice. We want to make it more along the lines of working together as a team but we’re not sure we’re even going to be able to do that right now.”

The lack of playdates may be a concern but coaches know there are other hurdles to get past including having a later evaluation period.

“We haven’t even had our       tryouts yet,” Holtville coach Alison Franklin said. “The first thing you have to do is have a team before having a summer play date. Usually by this time, I have a team set but we don’t know how anything is going to go right now.”

Holtville has done a home camp and one playdate per year since Franklin took over the program. The players look forward to those every year but even without them, she said she was not worried about keeping the players excited about the preseason.

“It’s really hard to get the same sort of competition they need,” Franklin said. “We do the best we can though. I love to go to those as a coach because we can get a quick look at some of our challenges but our girls really love getting in there and being together whether it’s in the weight room or in the gym with a ball.”

Summer competitions can serve as a way to break from the repetitiveness of workouts and conditioning but after a long break, coaches do not seem to be very worried about the passion and excitement showing up when their players get back on the court.

“I really feel like the kids are just going to be looking forward to getting on the court,” Moncrief said. “Just getting them together again, I believe they are going to pull together and make things as good as they can when we get on the floor. I think their minds will be right and I don’t think they will take any of it for granted.” 

Caleb Turrentine is a sports writer for Tallapoosa Publishers Inc.