This will be a cross between a sports story and an opinion piece. When you first start reading, you may ask, “Why is this in this paper? This isn’t about a local sports player.”
Read to the end, I think you will understand…..
Kaetlyn McGriff is a volleyball player from Huntsville Junior High School in Huntsville, AL. She has an older brother, Keller, and her parents are Chris and Misty McGriff. Her great-grandparents are Feltus and Faye Nell McGriff of Holly Pond. And, yes, I am the proud grandfather of Kaetlyn and Keller.
With introductions aside, Kaetlyn has found a passion in volleyball. At 8 years old, she tried her hand at volleyball and has been practicing and playing as often and as much as she can since. She joined and played on travel volleyball teams for years. Many times she had to play against players years older than she was.
Back in March, Kaetlyn and her teammates were informed their travel volleyball season was canceled due to COVID-19. They were all very upset and disappointed, and it took several days for them to get over the cancelation.
During this summer, she tried out and made the volleyball team at Huntsville Junior High School. To say Kaetlyn was proud and excited would be an understatement.
Under the direction of Coach Dennis, practice began earlier this month using Alabama Department of Health and Alabama High School Athletic Association guidelines and directives.
All this hard work and effort led to the coach and her team playing their first matches at West Morgan High School Saturday, Aug. 22, 2020.
Matches were won and lost. All the players and coaches tried their best, and the parents were there to cheer and support their teams.
And that comes to the reason I felt a need to write this piece. In this world of COVID-19, the AHSAA moved forward with allowing sports to happen under altered conditions. My first chance to see this in action was Thursday night at a football game in Mobile. Fans were consistently reminded to wear masks and keep familial distances.
Friday night I was at another football game at Falkville. Similar conditions were being observed as I had seen in Mobile. The players, when not playing, were being told by their coaches to maintain distance and wear their masks.
And there I was watching my granddaughter’s first school volleyball games. Knowing about all the hard work she and her teammates had put in to get to that point and how proud and excited they were, everything else seemed trivial.
You can put me in the skeptic category. I’m skeptical about numbers of infections and deaths associated with the pandemic. I’m skeptical about how effective the wearing of masks by untrained people is in containing the spread of the virus. That does not mean I am skeptical there is no illness and death due to COVID-19. There are. I followed all requirements asked of me including wearing a mask at all times.
Watching the joy and excitement by all the players last week, made any inconvenience I had to go through seem petty and insignificant. I used to work in the nuclear power field. At times we were required to be fully covered in decontamination suits, with a full gas mask and have all openings taped up for our protection. This made us completely airtight inside our de-con suits. So, the point of this piece, I’d put the that same outfit on, tape and all, to allow my granddaughter and all the other players be able to pursue their goals. When you’re asked to do certain things to allow these young people to play, my advice, do it and keep your mouth closed except to cheer for your team.