Varsity Volleyball Team in Quarantine

Varsity Volleyball Team in Quarantine

Caroline Michailoff, Co-Editorial Director, Junior

On April 15, the PMHS Varsity Volleyball team played their last league game against Tuckahoe ending in a win that led them to be the first ranked seed in the Southern Westchester Section. Just three day later, the team received the devastating news that their season had ended due to a positive case on the Tuckahoe Volleyball team. This meant they would have to quarantine for ten days and be taken out of the playoff bracket. That night, Pelham received the news that the Tuckahoe player who tested positive did not actually play in the game on the 15th and they were allowed to play in playoffs and attend school. During the girls practice on the 19, Ms. Chung, the COVID-19 supervisor at Pelham, and Mr. Hodge, the athletic director delivered more unfortunate news: the Pelham team members did in fact have to quarantine, breaking the platers’ hearts.
This was attributed to a complete lack of communication on the Tuckahoe school district’s end, causing the girls to have to endure this heartbreak not once, but twice. Had the Tuckahoe school district taken a moment to actually assess if the player who tested had actually played instead of rushing to conclusions, it would have saved the girls from double disappointment. After working hard all season to achieve a 12-1 record and becoming the first ranked team in the section, the news  leading to a final dip in the emotional roller-coaster was truly devastating

Pelham was not the only team that had to withdraw from the playoffs in the area. Many sports teams have had their seasons abruptly ended, having their already shortened seasons cut even shorter. This has made many question the rules that the New York State Department of Health has set for high school sports. For low-impact games like volleyball, where teams are on opposite sides of the court and rarely make direct contact, it seems a little extreme to make the players on the opposing team quarantine, especially in games leading up to championships. Others point out, ironically, though the season was forced to a premature conclusion due to potential exposure to COVID, the clearance, which was first rescinded and then put back into place,  caused team members to attend school and practice for a full day under the assumption that they were cleared, potentially exposing still more teachers, staff, administrators and family members to the virus. So, this is more than just a case of a few athletes and their disappointment over the cancellation of a well-earned tournament slot. This is an instance where the “responsible adults” in charge broke a few hearts and exposed an entire community to a health hazard.By allowing the team to attend school for a day, they might have exposed others to COVID,  the complete opposite of the goal of the COVID guidelines of high risk sports.

“It was a brutal 24 hours,” Mr. Finegan, the coach of the Pelham team said. “Having to deliver that news two different times and seeing their faces was heartbreaking. Our team was a joy from the start to finish. To have it end like this for them is just devastating.”

The second heartbreak was far worse than the first. The girls were given a second chance once cleared by the Department of Health to resume play, after contact tracing. This relief quickly turned into disappointment again when the Department of Health called the Athletic Director informing him that the final decision was that the team could not play in the playoffs.

“Honestly, at first we were upset that we couldn’t finish our season, but we understood the circumstances,” Shannon Holland, senior caption of the volleyball team said. “When we were told we could play, we were fired up unlike ever before. So, for that to be taken away again was completely heartbreaking.”