COVID Pandemic Hits Volleyball Team Hard, Ladies Persevere

At Volleyball games, surgical-mask-wearing fans sat six-feet apart and cheered as the Lady Raiders spiked balls over the net. Each athlete had different feelings about how this unique season went. The COVID-19 pandemic even impacted practice time.

“We weren’t allowed to touch the same volleyballs, so I feel we didn’t get as much out of the practices as we could have,” Marissa Gibson, 8th, said.

The biggest challenge for Addison Foster, 8th, was traveling away.

“We could not sit with each other and our parents could not come, which was difficult because we would always get cheered on and having them watch us was just a big push for us to win,” Addison said. “We really had to cheer on ourselves.”

N’Kiyah Charles, 8th, struggled with social distancing and keeping her mask over her nose while practicing.

“We could not give each other high fives, and it was just a weird season with so many getting quarantined,” N’Kiyah said.

Mallory Craig, 9th, agreed about the impact of quarantines.

“Dealing with never knowing who was going to be at games and still being able to play when people were missing was the biggest challenge,” Mallory said.

Coach Heyn felt similarly to Mallory.

“We had several occasions this year where athletes were being quarantined as we were warming up for games,” Coach Heyn said. “Our athletes did a wonderful job adjusting to the changes and always accepted those changes.”

Amidst the chaos, Coach Heyn continued to motivate the players.

“Coach Heyn told us she knew how hard this must be, but we got this and still had to fight,” Jasmine Flores, 8th, said.

Dewaynejayne Manning, 8th, learned valuable lessons from Coach Heyn.

“She told me to keep my head up after any mistake, keep going, and never stop,” Dewaynejayne said.

The coaches made sure the ladies stayed positive.

“When we started to get in our heads on the court, they reminded us to calm down and never give up,” Paris Novak, 9th, said. “Coach Heyn and Coach Candelaria always made sure that we were okay before pushing us more.”

To Kaelyn Keosengphachanh, 9th, Coach Heyn made being on the court fun.

“It made me and the team more motivated to play,” Kaelyn said.

Madison Freeman, 9th, also enjoyed fun practices, especially when they played the game Queens.

“My best moment was when we barked at each other during practice because it was funny,” Madison said.

The coaches kept the girls active and assisting each other.

“When 7th grade started practicing with us, we helped them,” N’Kiyah said.

Makiah Perry, 8th, appreciated how the coaches always pushed and challenged them.

“I’m going to be sad leaving her next year because I may not get to see the coaches as much, and I’ll miss having practices with all my friends,” Makiah said.

Despite the ups and downs of the seasons, the Ladies still had their best moments.

Caroline Mckinney, 7th, valued when she was asked to move up and play with the 8th graders.

“I got to show my talent as a setter,” Caroline said.

For Paris, the best moment of the season was Freshmen Night.

“That night, we won our last game,” Paris said.

Mallory liked seeing how she has improved since starting out here three years ago.

“My best moment of my season was running more plays with my hitters and comparing that to how we played in 7th grade,” Mallory said.

Tahleigha Taylor, 9th, felt nostalgic about having to move on to high school.

“It’s sad that this is the last time I have played with Kimmons,” Tahleigha said.

Jaliah Vickers, 9th, will never forget this year.

“My best moment was getting the hang of rotations and being able to make the big plays,” Jailah said. “Also, it means a lot to me to be the final freshmen team because people will look back on this year and see us and think ‘that was the last 9th graders to play in at this junior high.’ This year was a big change in the whole city, and I was part of that change. I could never have asked for a better group of girls because we basically grew up together, and now we get to be a part of such a big step in the school program.”

Coach Heyn is extremely proud of how the girls performed this year and the positive attitudes they maintained.

“In a normal year, I think we would have pulled some of the wins that we were not able to this time just due to the fact that I never had all my starters at one time until over half way through the season,” Coach Heyn said. “The girls always stepped up and fought. I wish I had this group one more year to help them see how much they have grown in just three short years.”