Donated by: Paula Lillquist
Senior Natalie Hernandez playing outside hitter approaches the ball, gaining momentum with each step, and hits it as hard as she can – pounding the ball towards the 10 foot line. Although this is not unusual, this time is different. There is no crowd cheering her on, solely the voices of her teammates.
Natalie has been playing volleyball ever since she was ten. She has been a starting player in Varsity for four consecutive years. In her junior and senior year she was named captain. Coming into her senior year she knew everything would be different. At first, the season was not guaranteed due to COVID-19.
During the beginning of October the season started, but with a twist. During practices the teammates were mandated to wear masks. She states, “I don’t mind wearing masks especially since it helps protect me and my family. It can be uncomfortable for everyone at some point, but if it keeps us safe and allows us to continue playing our final season, I really don’t see a problem with it.” Keeping this sense of optimism has helped lead the team to their first two victories of the season, creaming the opposing team in just three sets.
This year there is another difference. Family, friends, and students are not allowed to watch the games due to lack of space in the gym. She comments, “As a fourth year Varsity player I am a little upset that we can’t have our parents or our friends supporting us, but we are given the opportunity to play and be with teammates and that’s all that really matters.” Through these unstable times Natalie has recognized the blessing of being able to play her senior season.
With no crowd, the team brings the heat! She expressed, “The team did a great job bringing the energy and getting ourselves hyped up.” With the first game, she was very proud of the underclassmen who have stepped up. As well as, the overall team chemistry allowing them to work cohesively.
Although this season has already faced its setbacks, the team continues to persevere under the guidance of the coaches and captains.