The Graded Volleyball Team’s Road to Normality

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As we move further away from Zoom, it is difficult to ignore the long path we still need to take to reach “normal” again. Despite this, our community is slowly beginning to look like what it used to: the Graded varsity volleyball team is proof of this. 

Isabel Marangoni, a ninth grader, expresses the ups and downs of her experience while on the volleyball team. She has been on the volleyball team since seventh grade, and has dealt with several obstacles up to this day. She recounted that “[she] broke [her] pinky on the very first day of practice, that was [her] first struggle … [she] then broke [her] pinky again when the second semester was starting, that was [her] second struggle.” Soon after Isabel’s first “real game with different schools,” the pandemic hit, marking her third struggle. Despite her rocky start to her volleyball career, things were different this time; practices were canceled and she had to stay home due to the virus. Isabel comments that “it is only now that I have started 9th grade, almost two years later, that I have finally been able to return to the court.” The flood of joy and excitement which comes with this piece of normality Isabel has gotten back is also mixed with some regret: “both my mom and my brother who helped me practice are not allowed to attend in support of me,” she expressed. A Talon news correspondent attended the first game on October 8th and although it was limited to Graded students, she reported that she completely forgot about the pandemic for a second and got that familiar sense of community back as she watched her friends on the court. 

This excitement for this return to the court does not limit itself to Isabel; “It had been around two years since the volleyball team stopped having games,” Carolina Clark, another member of the team, mentioned, “and games are crucial for the team’s physical and emotional improvement on the court… I couldn’t be more excited for the games to begin again, even when they are just between us Graded students.” It is true that games are a vital part of volleyball for its team members, not only because they present opportunities to improve and showcase skill, but also because they bring team members closer together.

A freshman on the team, Catharina Beltrão, also recognizes the importance of in person practices: “It’s easy to feel worse than the older players, and practices are just as important as games for us…it feels amazing to be able to make the transition from junior varsity to varsity with the team actually reunited.” This small glimpse into what the world could look like after the pandemic gives certain individuals an opportunity to live through important stepping stones – like the change from middle school to high school – in person as well. 

Despite the volleyball team being a small part of our community, the return of games can be seen as a big step towards normality for all Graded students and teachers. These changes are being made in all areas of Graded, not just volleyball, and everyone is hopeful of getting our pre-Covid livelihoods back in the near future.