The return to offseason workouts has the Coppell volleyball team thinking about how to balance a delicate situation.
Logic says the Cowgirls have a lot of catching up to do after the coronavirus pandemic forced school districts to close their gymnasiums for the past three months. On the other hand, all of that downtime away from organized team activities has coaches wanting to ease their players back into volleyball drills.
It’s a battle of tug-and-war that Coppell head coach Julie Price has gained firm control of.
“Our kids were definitely working hard while we were apart, but it is still different than daily offseason and hours each week of club volleyball,” she said. “We understand that it will take a minute to be back to where we think we should be with just a handful of weeks before our season starts, but I'm proud of how committed they are to getting us there.”
The University Interscholastic League permitted teams to start voluntary summer workouts on June 8 with social distancing guidelines that had to be enforced.
Coppell spent all of that week working on strength and conditioning drills with instruction provided by training regimen Performance Course. The Cowgirls began to work on individual skill development such as hitting and passing last week.
“We've had a few volleyball practices with our 10th through 12th graders, and they have gone really well,” Price said. “The kids have responded well to the parameters we have in terms of small grouping and social distancing. The focus has been more on individual skill development as opposed to team competition. We're 100% on attendance from this returning player group, so again, the commitment is there.”
The commitment has been there in the months prior to the restart of high school sports.
Two sayings that Coppell has within its volleyball program are “nothing if not flexible” and “spin.” The latter means the ability to take a difficult situation and find the positive in it. “Nothing if not flexible” is the ability to change when the situation changes.
Coppell took those two sayings to heart and ran with them.
“We spent the first few weeks being creative about our workouts at home, which was a good break and allowed the athletes some choice,” Price said. “When Performance Course came out with their Rack app, which had detailed at-home workouts each day, it allowed us to all get back on the same page and have some greater accountability.
“It was a great tool that felt more like what our offseason workout would be like if we were together. I'm really proud of our athletes that they were personally invested and focused on what they could do each day instead of what they couldn't.”
Although COVID-19 cancelled spring practices, the Cowgirls found other ways to bond as a team. In a normal year, Coppell has a spring service project where each athlete volunteers at least five hours at an opportunity of their choosing. Instead, they invited the community to participate with them in a canned food drive for Metrocrest Services and collected more than 2,000 items for donation.
Another way the Cowgirls bonded as a team was through virtual book readings.
“We ended up having our last one remotely with the book ‘The Shark and The Goldfish: Positive Ways To Thrive In Waves Of Change,’” Price said. “We created platoons and group competitions and looked for new ways to build relationships in ways that would not have been choice had we been together physically every day. In terms of team bonding, I feel like the coaches and athletes in our program are closer than when we left in March, and I'm excited to see how that factors into how we play together when we are back on the court.”