Volleyball athletes face clashing school and club seasons

October 22, 2020 — by Selina Chen and Oliver Ye
Screen Shot 2020-10-22 at 9

Junior Jordyn Sin and her teammates on City Beach’s 17s one’s team attended practice on Oct. 14.

The pandemic presents club volleyball players with unusual tryouts, overlapping seasons, and a difficult college recruitment process.


Before the spinning volleyball could hit the ground, junior Jordyn Sin dove down and saved the ball in a move she had practiced for years — but with a face mask on, it felt different and uncomfortable. Since July, her club, City Beach, has requested all players to wear masks during practices.

With the COVID-19 pandemic, athletes who play in club volleyball have seen drastic changes in their clubs’ functions, and many volleyball players must make a difficult choice in face of the overlap between their club and school seasons, which have been rescheduled from August through November to December through March.

Sin is the libero, or defensive player, on the 17s one’s team — the highest-level team — for City Beach. But with health regulations preventing the rigorous and large-scale tryouts process of previous years, City Beach decided to give rollover offers to all players on the previous 16s one’s team to play for 17s one’s.

In fact, most of the clubs in the area are doing rollover offers, Sin said.

“No club is really broadcasting themselves for tryouts,” Sin said. “It’s not worth the hassle for them to get new people in the gym while following health restrictions when they already have the majority of their team.”

Not only is Sin an avid club volleyball player, she has also been playing on the school’s varsity team since her freshman year. 

Under normal circumstances, the school season would end before club tryouts, and the tournament season would start in January and continue until June. However, with the school season postponed to December through March, there will be a three-month overlap.

“It’s a tough decision for many volleyball players,” Sin said. “I don't think players will be able to go back and forth. It will also be hard for coaches to balance their duties.”

Sin said that she would definitely play club volleyball instead of school volleyball, largely because she is not familiar with the new school coach, Brendan Wang.

She also knows that if she plays for the school team, she will be the only junior who’s been on the team for two years, and would need to organize the team’s senior night. Despite her love for SHS volleyball, Sin doesn’t think she can make this commitment on top of her academics and club volleyball, she said.

Another factor is that Sin sees school volleyball as preparation for club volleyball, since the former’s practices aren’t as hard, she said.

“It really comes down to figuring out what your priorities are and what you want to see yourself doing,” Sin said. “You need to know the capacity of what you can sign up for and how many hours you have in a day.”

Unlike Sin, senior Hermione Bossolina, who has played setter for SHS since freshman year, plans to choose school volleyball.

“My club, Stingray, hasn't decided what they would do this year because of COVID-19,” Bossolina said. “I can only do one of the two because of my senior year workload, so I’d rather play school volleyball.”

Coach Wang predicts a polarized outcome: Either the majority of athletes chooses club or the majority chooses school because students want to play alongside their friends.

“Playing the same sport for two teams in the same season will create conflicts and will wear the body over time,” Wang said. “Hopefully my kids will just focus on one thing so I won’t have to deal with scheduling or attendance conflicts.”

The overlapping seasons not only affect the girls’ season, but also boys’ season, which usually runs from August to January.

Senior Dylan Li plays as setter for Mountain View Volleyball Club’s (MVVC) 18s one’s team. His team is mostly carried over from last year, with a few additional teammates who are acquainted with the coach.

Unlike the girls, Li is planning to play for both club and school because of MVVC’s decision to hold practices once a week on the weekends once school season starts, instead of the current three times a week on weekdays, to avoid conflicts.

Despite the regular practices, Li still finds it difficult to stay in shape through this long period of time, not knowing when he will be able to return to playing at tournaments.

“I now realize how much I enjoy the sport,” Li said. “Not being able to go to tournaments made me appreciate everything I had before.”

Another adverse impact of the pandemic is on the college recruitment process.

Li said that the summer after junior year is the biggest opportunity for recruitment because clubs compete at nationals, where college coaches come out to look at the rising seniors. But without nationals, or any other tournaments, recruiting is getting pushed back into the spring, he said.

“I was hoping to get recruited so I would be able to skip the college application process for a lot of schools,” said Li, who is hoping to play Division 1. “Instead, I now have to write all my essays, and hope that I can get recruited online.”

For Bossolina, the pandemic did not have a big influence on her college recruitment process because the colleges she is trying to get into for academics are beyond her volleyball skill level. So in junior year, she already put together videos of herself playing for colleges to look at.

Sin started reaching out to colleges as early as last summer, emailing coaches for Division 3 because she wants to focus more on her academics. But the majority of responses she got are automatic questionnaires because colleges don’t have a solid recruiting plan, she said.

Even though the situation is difficult, Sin said she completely respects the decisions made by her club and other organizations.

“It's an unprecedented territory,” Sin said. “No one's been in a global pandemic, so I'm going to accommodate anything that I can to keep the spreading of the virus to a minimum.”


6 views this week