Are we there yet?

Battle Creek; the ultimate road trip for volleyball teams and their fans.

GLADWIN – After many false starts we seem to be on the way toward a full restart for high school sports. There have been several many positive signs over the last several weeks probably the biggest of which was the resumption of the football playoffs. While several teams were forced to forfeit due to safety concerns and COVID outbreaks 32 games were played last weekend. Regionally, Cadillac, Frankenmuth, Freeland and Grayling are still alive.

At the local level the Beaverton volleyball team played Calumet last night in the quarterfinals for a shot to advance to the Final Four in Battle Creek. It’s been a long break for the quarterfinal participants. The Beavers last played on November 12 when they swept McBain 3-0 in the Regional finals. The season came to a temporary halt on November 15 when Governor Whitmer announced that all school sports activities were suspended immediately.

To their credit the Michigan High School Athletic Association (MHSAA) steadfastly refused to cancel the remaining fall tournaments. While the athletes waited the MHSAA worked diligently with the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) to make sure that high school athletes get to finish their seasons. We are within a week of completing the volleyball season, but few would be surprised by another pause. “We have been through so much off and on that we are pretty numb to decisions, so we really don’t emotionally sway one way or the other,” said Coach Steve Evans. “We were glad to be back together, but at the same time wondering when the next stoppage will be.”

The surviving volleyball teams are all in the same situation. They were all at the top of their game in mid November when play stopped and now must get back into form in a short period of time. The Beaverton girls are no exception. “Mentally and physically we are right where we need to be,” continued Evans. “They have been working out and haven’t really checked out mentally on volleyball. Once we were back in the gym we hit the ground running and were on our way.”

A rapid testing pilot program developed by the MDHSS made the completion of the seasons possible. Data from the rapid testing program will be used to gain insight into the spread of the COVID-19 virus. Evans mentioned that the testing went well. “The only tough part is the 15 minutes of waiting for results.” 

Once a team was cleared by the testing program they were able to begin practicing again. This gave everybody about a week to get ready for their quarterfinal contests. “Early in the week we were completely focused on us. We worked through many drills that cover all the skills and on fast transition offense and defense,” said Evans. “At the end of the week we were game ready and moved our focus to Calumet.” A win by the Beavers on Tuesday could set up a possible rematch with Monroe St. Mary. The Kestrels defeated Beaverton in the semifinals last year on their way to a state championship.

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