Shortly after releasing its return to play schedule for fall sports practices and games, the Arizona Interscholastic Association laid out a series of modifications for pre-game, in-game and post-game procedures in those sports.
While the games, and everything that comes before and after will look and feel different this fall, three volleyball coaches at Glendale-based high schools see the wisdom in these changes.
In all, the AIA lists 29 modifications for procedures in and around the game, plus 11 more changes for officials. None stood out as deal breakers to coaches.
“It all makes sense honestly ... to keep our kids as safe as possible,” longtime Deer Valley High volleyball coach Jackie Wallace stated in an email.
First-year Mountain Ridge head coach Christina Jensen echoed that sentiment, saying all of the modifications are reasonable.
She has already seen the havoc COVID-19 can wreak. Her second spring coaching the Mountain Lions’ beach volleyball team was wiped out by the pandemic after a mere two matches and one invitational.
So Jensen is agreeable to whatever can lessen the chance of spreading the virus and increase the probability of the volleyball season with an ending — including coaches, officials and most players not playing wearing masks during games.
“Masks have been shown to make a huge impact on slowing the transmission of the COVID virus. Enforcing masks for everyone not engaged in playing the game makes sense,” Jensen stated in an email.
Cactus coach Anthony Puglisi also stated in an email that the social distancing modifications make sense. All the others, he said, like coin toss, no handshakes and other pre- and post-game rituals are all “extras” and really do not impact the game..
If anything, Puglisi said the modifications could use a little more distancing built in.
“Substitution is a little puzzling to me. We should maintain social distancing but still substitute within a few feet of each other,” Puglisi stated. “In all reality, the refs can communicate what players are in for others regardless of where they are entering the court.”
While both Jensen and Wallace said they understand the rationale for limiting contact before and after games, they both pointed to the following modifications to routine as the biggest adjustments:
• No handshakes prior to and following the coin toss.
• No handshakes, high fives, fist bumps, hugs, etc. should occur pre or post-match.
“I think the most difficult modification for us and the girls to get used to is the social distancing during pre-game/post-game and the no handshake line/high fives prior to or following the contest,” Wallace stated.
As Jensen pointed out, girls on opposing teams are often friends or at least cordial from getting to know one another on the club circuit.
She also believes a generation fluent in Snapchat and Tik Tok will come up with some unique ways to say hi and commend the opposing team.
“The modifications are reasonable and easy to execute, but I will miss the pre and post game handshakes,” Jensen stated. “Good sportsmanship is at the heart of team sports, and I will miss seeing the girls connect with club teammates, former teammates, and friends at the net. I am, however, excited to see the creative ways teams engage each other for these same moments with social distancing.”
For a full list of AIA modifications to fall sports, visit this page.
Tryouts and practice for girls volleyball began today1, with the game schedule starting Sept. 21.
Puglisi stated that these changes will not alter the nature of the games this fall.
“I don’t feel any of these are difficult to maintain. Most of the procedures are not game dependent. Wearing articles or clothing, or coin toss or water bottles don’t impact the game very much so I don’t think any of it is going to be a problem,” Puglisi stated.