“When do you think we will play a match again, coach?”
“What will tournaments look like when we return to play?”
“Will we finish our season, coach?”
As a member of Niagara Frontier or any school sports team, these are the questions coaches have been fielding on a daily basis. Since the state of New York closed down schools and sports in mid-March, like many coaches around the country, we have been trying to connect with and inspire kids to keep practicing and STAY ENGAGED.
Since the beginning of July, our club has been doing just that… staying engaged. After creating a comprehensive cleaning and re-opening plan, we started the summer off with private and small group lessons. We then moved into slightly larger clinics and camps incorporating social distancing protocols. Both elementary and middle school programs for players new to the sport of volleyball have occurred with good attendance. We conducted tryouts and are now in the dawn of club team practices.
The great programming and volleyball training that has occurred in our Niagara Frontier Sports facility has come from a desire to provide a safe place for our young athletes. It is our goal to provide a fun and socially responsible environment to support our players and families. Niagara Frontier will continue to follow all guidelines and protocol to provide social, emotional and physical activities for children in our community. We know the value of providing sport opportunities and we will continue to do so in the safest manner possible.
While abiding by the microcluster designations imposed by New York State and Erie County, our club will continue training in December, January and February as long as safely allowed for families and coaches who are comfortable doing so. A recent survey of our coaches told us that they are concerned and sensitive to the ever changing numbers of Covid-19 cases in our region but will continue to work with their teams and do whatever they can to remain on the volleyball courts.
Our coaches and staff are optimistic that some form of practice, including competitive training can and will continue beyond the upcoming holidays. However, we are not optimistic about the advent of volleyball being played scholastically in any public schools or venues.
That being said, we are planning in-house, weekend events at Niagara Frontier Sports for our own teams in January and early February. If state parameters still allow, we will then initiate competitive training and practice events open to other local or regional clubs.
In anticipation of our ability to travel and participate in what we commonly call a “tournament,” we have entered events in Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan and New York from mid-March through June for our National teams. We have registered our Regional teams for events in New York, Pennsylvania and Western Ohio. Our local teams will play at our facility at least once per month from the end of January through May. Tentative tournament schedules will be released soon.
The Western Empire Volleyball Association (WEVA), Junior Volleyball Association (JVA) and the Amateur Athletic Union (AAU) have continued to organize events in the northeast and we will consider sending our travel and regional teams to events provided they are safe and offer a quality experience for our teams. Many club directors across New York State have contacted me to express their desire to travel and participate in competitive training events at our facility. We will continue to communicate with them in order to create the best volleyball season we can as time goes on.
As the current situation in Western New York evolves, our team asks that our Niagara Frontier family remains understanding and flexible with any changes that may need to take place. These changes may include practice times (if reduced capacity is required), changes in tournament schedules (as travel restrictions change), and other facility protocol changes. We will continue to communicate any updates to families as quickly as possible through our website, e-mail and social media. We are doing our best at updating portions of the www.NFVBjuniors.com website to answer questions as they arise.
Coronavirus has already made a massive impact on the world of youth sports. The sacrifices NFVB families may make during this crisis ask them to draw on the very lessons we've learned through sports: to be resilient and have a growth mindset. What we are all being asked to do is the essence of some of the best life lessons sports can offer. Let’s all recognize that living up to this difficult civic responsibility is honorable and should become a source of pride.
Niagara Frontier Volleyball has been and will continue to be an outstanding platform to develop better athletes and better people through character development. We’ve seen it every day on the courts this fall. Let's apply the lessons of youth sports participation; be resilient, control what you can control, be selfless and STAY ENGAGED.
Be merry and make the best of this upcoming holiday season!
Coach Rocco Lucci
Niagara Frontier Volleyball