The Motherlode Volleyball Club is a team without a home. Typically, an elementary or high school gym would open its doors to allow the squad to conduct summer practices. Because of COVID-19, all doors have been shut. With no place to go, the Motherlode Volleyball Club has been relegated to practicing twice a week outdoors on the grass at Gateway Park in Angels Camp.
Bethany Jennings, who runs the Motherlode Volleyball Club, hasn’t been able to have real practices with her players since lockdowns began in March.
“We haven’t been able to do anything until they allowed outdoor activities,” Jennings said. “We did virtual training and I assigned them home workouts and individual training skills. We did a couple of Zoom things and that didn’t really work out for them.”
Motherlode Volleyball Club is in the process of trying to raise money for new nets, as well as trying to find a permanent place to call home. Currently, Jennings is looking at either purchasing or renting and thinks she may have found something in Columbia that could hold three or four courts. While searching for a home court is still in the infancy phase, trying to come up with equipment is one of the biggest issues for the club.
Jennings would like to purchase a new net system, which includes a net, poles and pads and that runs around $5,000. The club has a GoFundMe on its Facebook page and has raised around $400.
Jennings may be thinking about the future, but she is still staying in the present and doesn’t forget about health concerns. A hand sanitizing station is set up near the outdoor courts and the volleyballs are cleaned throughout the evening. Each player, along with a parent, has signed a waiver, and social distancing is being practiced as much as possible.
The future of California athletics, from youth to high school and college, doesn’t look great. There’s no guarantee that sports will be played anytime soon, and should that be the case, Jennings knows it would be devastating to her players.
“It would be heartbreaking,” she said. “A lot of these kids eat, sleep and breathe volleyball. We travel for hours for tournaments and play 16 hours a day. For them to lose their club season again would be awful. And the depression that goes on for these girls when they can’t come out here and play is unreal. We have players who sleep all day and are up all night, and their parents are struggling to get them involved and when they started coming to this, their spirits were lifted and they were better at home and the depression goes away. So, for these kids not to have that outlet is not OK.”
There could be a scenario where high school volleyball could be pushed back to January, which is the time the Motherlode Volleyball Club would also be playing. Club and high school sports are not meant to overlap, which could cause issues. Jennings hopes that if that is the case, both the Northern California Volleyball Association (NCVA) and the California Interscholastic Federation (CIF) would be able to work together, so that nobody else misses any more time.
“If the CIF pushed high school volleyball back to January and that’s the start of all of our tournaments, they would have to let the girls coincide if we started club first,” Jennings said. “There would have to be some give-and-take from both the NCVA and the CIF to allow players and coaches to play at the same time. It’ll be interesting to see what the CIF and NCVA do with those rules.”