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Caleb Turrentine / The Herald Wetumpka coach DeAnna Smith talks to her team during a timeout.

When the AHSAA announced athletic activities could resume statewide June 1, many teams quickly started to piece together a plan to return for their summer workouts as soon as possible. However, some programs, including Wetumpka volleyball, have decided to stick with the wait-and-see game as confirmed cases of COVID-19 continue to increase across the state.

“It really surprised me especially considering the rise in cases in Alabama,” Wetumpka coach DeAnna Smith said. “I’m not going to start on the first. I want to give two weeks to see what happens. I’m going to be a little more patient. My biggest concern is going back too soon, seeing another spike and seasons are canceled outright. That’s something I don’t want.”

Smith said if things begin to look clear over the next two weeks, she will not hesitate to get the team back together and she believes there will be plenty of time to make up for the head start other programs may have gotten.

Wetumpka is still working to develop a workout plan that is safe for player’s health and efficient in preparing for the upcoming season.

“We’ve put out some links to parents and got a lot of responses,” Smith said. “We’ll put together smaller groups based off age and skill level. We want to do as much distancing as possible. We have to keep hammering to the kids over and over.”

Smith said she spoke to her players about the decision over a Zoom call last week and athough the players were excited to hear schools would be reopening, they understood the decision to hold off summer workouts for the time being.

“At this point, we are all ready to go back,” senior Morgan Causey said. “But it’s best to take precautions early so we can play our part to create a better environment for everybody and get to have a season.”

Causey said Smith gave the team two dates of returning to practice, either June 15 or June 23, and although the team’s return date is not set in stone, Causey voted for the earliest date possible because she wants to get back. Despite not having summer camps or competition, Causey and her teammates are just as excited to get on the court.

“I would love to get started as soon as possible but we usually don’t start until mid-June anyway,” Causey said. “I don’t think any athlete looks forward to conditioning but I think everyone is excited to get back after being on break after so long — just being together as a team to help us bond.”

Smith said she stresses on the players to not panic about not getting practices started yet but she also wants them to realize the importance of staying healthy right now. The players know what’s at stake and are willing to wait if it means a season is on the way.

“We definitely face reality and bring it up,” Causey said. “Often times we go back to staying positive but we know there is a possibility. I have conversations with other two seniors and how we would react (if the season got canceled) but we have to do our part to make sure it doesn’t happen to us.” 

Caleb Turrentine is a sports writer for Tallapoosa Publishers Inc.