Elena Shklyar is a junior in the School of Journalism. She is also a member of MSU's volleyball team. This story is repurposed content from WKAR.
In July, Shklyar wrote about her experience returning to campus to practice with the volleyball team. This past December, she gave an update on her situation.
I never thought I would step on to a volleyball court wearing a mask covering half of my face, unable to high five my teammates and not preparing for a game during the fall.
But that is only part of the new “normal” that I live in, as a junior setter on the Michigan State volleyball team.
What was normal has completely changed because of COVID-19. The everyday life of the college student-athlete is something it has never been before.
It is now one of taking a symptom test and spitting into a tube every morning in order to enter the gym and play volleyball.
It is now one of not being able to come to practice last minute because a teammate had a runny nose or headache and had to get COVID tested, only for it to be a cold from the weather changing.
It is now one of sweating through multiple masks per practice, not just T-shirts.
It is now one of me texting my roommates offering to “turn in their spit for them in the morning,” so we can get our early detection COVID-19 test results back.
It is now one of my season getting postponed and not being able to compete in a volleyball match in over a year.
How did we get here?
COVID-19 changed everything in my world this year.
Around the start of July, I was able to start training with my coaches and team in Jenison Fieldhouse again. Finally, I felt like things were getting back to normal.
I then started to hear rumors of fall sports getting canceled just like spring sports, unfortunately, were only a few months ago.
Sure enough, a few days later I was in the middle of practice when we heard the news for certain — we would not be playing that fall.
It’s safe to say my heart just about dropped then.
Everything we had worked for, all of the workouts we did over Zoom together while quarantined in our houses, all of our hard work seemed to be put off once again.
I know I had complained in the start about not being able to go into our locker room and having to wipe down every volleyball at the end of practice, but I was willing to do anything it took to have a season.
Some things are way more important than sports — I get that. But to me, a Division I athlete who had trained her whole life for this opportunity? This was devastating.
The good news was that the season was just postponed and not canceled. We would have a chance to compete in the spring.
Until then, it would be another few months of practice to prepare ourselves.