After 30 years of coaching volleyball, coach Moe Licardo has come to think of the familiar task of putting up the net as a bit of chore.
But after the COVID-19 pandemic put a months-long halt to athletics, Licardo was thrilled to tackle that duty last week.
“I never thought I could be this happy to have to set the net up,” Licardo said. “This is my first step to normalcy.”
Fayetteville Tech athletics, like sports programs across the country, is slowing getting back to regular activity this summer.
Trojan volleyball is no exception, beginning summer workouts this week with an eye on Aug. 1 as the start date for official practices.
“We’re getting some summer touches in with some individual summer workouts,” Licardo said.
The return comes heavy with precautions and preventative measures to keep coaches and athletes alike safe from the spread of the disease, which the World Health Organization says has infected nearly 8 million people worldwide since its discovery in December.
Each of the FTCC coaches had to present a plan to athletic director Mike Neal that laid out how their teams would safely return to working out.
For the volleyball team, safety measures include not just the state-mandated limit on 10 people or less for inside gatherings, but also temperature checks, no sharing of water bottles and constant observation of social distancing recommendations.
“There are no high-fives or hugs. No huddles, like volleyball players love to do,” Licardo said.
That’s a small price to pay to be able to get back in the gym, said sophomore returner Alexis Spexarth.
“We didn’t know for the longest if we were going to be able to play,” the outside hitter said. “So it’s just great to have stability and to have something else to look forward to during school. These girls are going to be my everything for the next four months. As a sophomore, I’m trying to make the most of it.”
So far, volleyball workouts have been well below the 10-person limit, and Licardo is focusing on individual and small-group sessions for skill development.
It’s not ideal, but it is helping athletes work back into the sport as safely as possible.
“It’s just so good to get back in the gym and feel that excitement of getting back to doing what we love,” he said.