1023-ECHS VB 4.jpg

Caleb Turrentine / The Herald Elmore County’s Kelley Green (20) attempts to tip the ball past Holtville’s Brooke Cooper (12).

With tryouts and summer competitions called off for the time being, Elmore County volleyball coach Kim Moncrief has just been looking forward to getting her players back together even if the sport wasn’t returning. Fortunately for Moncrief and the Panthers, the AHSAA allowed summer workouts to begin Monday and the team took advantage as quickly as possible.

“These kids are just so eager to get back so we’re just happy to get into the gym together,” Moncrief said. “We’re going to set up as many precautions as we can but still get things done with the ball. We want to wipe down everything as often as we can and use certain balls for certain activities to try to keep cross-contamination down as much as possible.”

The Panthers held their first open-gym workout in two separate groups Monday as the upcoming juniors and seniors came in first thing in the morning. After a full cleaning of the gym and training area, the freshman and sophomore group got their chance to take the court.

Moncrief said her summer workouts will not be dealing with an actual volleyball as much as it has in the past to keep the possibility of COVID-19 spreading as limited as she can. She expects not to have any problems with keeping a 6-foot distance during their drills but it will still be encouraged even for those sitting on the sideline.

“We’re going to preach health and sanitation and try to get some volleyball in along the way,” Moncrief said. “A lot of this will just have to be make changes as it goes. We’re going to be as safe as we can be. And if we see something that hasn’t been addressed, we’re going to add to it.”

The Panthers keep plenty of soap on hand and will make sure players and coaches wash and sanitize their hands several times throughout the workout. 

“It’s about having open communication with the girls and stressing it in practice,” Moncrief said. “It’s going to look different than what we have done in the past but it’s something we have to do. We have to think about everything right now.”

Other programs around the area are taking some time before getting back in the gym but that has not halted the excitement for the return to volleyball. Holtville coach Alison Franklin will get her team started Monday, which was the original plan for summer training to begin.

“The first date they kept pushing was June 8 so we are still going to stick to our original plans,” Franklin said. “We want to get a plan together and stress the guidelines to the kids to make sure they understand it. They are still really excited and ready to get this going.”

The Bulldogs are taking a different approach in their summer workouts as they are going to stay focused on conditioning and the weight room as opposed to getting on the court. Although the players may want to get back on the court as soon as possible, Franklin does not expect their excitement to dwindle at all.

“We have pretty much always done that. June and July have always been lifting and working out,” Franklin said. “It’s been so long so I think for the most part, they will be excited for anything to do together.”

Caleb Turrentine is a sports writer for Tallapoosa Publishers Inc.