The MIAA finalized plans for volleyball and soccer in the spring of 2021 on Nov. 24.
Volleyball will be back the week of Feb. 22, and soccer will be back starting the week of March 29. Even though the schedules will be shortened, it helps athletes find a sense of normalcy despite the COVID-19 pandemic.
“It is good to have some matches lined up, and hopefully things improve, as everything seems to be spiking now,” Northwest soccer coach Marc Gordon said. “We are really looking forward to the opportunity to get to play if it does happen.”
He isn’t the only one who is ready for things to start up either.
“It is nice to have it be a priority,” Northwest volleyball coach Amy Woerth said. “It will be over 500 days since the last match when we get to play this year. We are all just really excited and ready to get back in the gym and play some matches.”
The next step for both coaches will be finding opponents and getting everyone ready to go as soon as the athletes come back from winter break.
“The plan is to finish up the semester and get through break and start our strength and conditioning piece,” Gordon said. “Then, come February, we will start training with the ball and train as we would before a fall season and focus on getting better before facing our opponents.”
Woerth, however, is taking a different approach to her next step. She wants to get the parameters of the season figured out before they start practicing.
“We have met as a conference and figured out divisions, now we need to nail down dates and really make some decisions as a group on what we would like to see,” Woerth said. “So, the next step is getting the schedule out so we have some idea of who we will play before we really get into practice.”
Getting the team prepared may prove to be easier than expected. With all the extra time that everyone had to get prepared for the season, it could mean that everyone is going to be ready to go by the time that practices actually start.
“Getting trained for the weather may be the hardest part in this upcoming season,” Gordon said. “We have had more time this year, which usually we haven’t had due to playing in the fall.”
Woerth is focusing more on her players staying healthy and taking it day by day.
“Be flexible throughout and plan just like we do for fall,” Woerth said. “It is still the same game in the same environment. We can focus on controlling what you can control and just letting everything else go.”
Throughout the long offseason, the players have had time to work on their skills and maintain their skill level on their own time. That may be the biggest key to success in the upcoming season.
“I think that our upperclassmen are doing a lot, especially for the new players and getting them used to college and getting the players to know that although the light at the end of the tunnel is far away, there is an outcome,” Gordon said. “COVID is a national thing that impacts the entire country in terms of collegiate athletes, so our upperclassmen showed a lot of maturity by keeping everyone in focus even without opponents to face.”
Woerth also believes her athletes are doing everything they can to maintain a high level of skill. Despite the long break, she is confident in her players to stay healthy and do what they can to prepare for the season ahead of them.
“I know our players have a very high commitment level, and we can’t require anything yet, so really our program makes great strides when athletes do things on their own,” Woerth said. “We’re having our captains run practice as much as they can and getting the new athletes ready to go on their own time so we can hit the ground running on our first practice.”