by Heidi L. Everett
As COVID-19 cases spiked in Minnesota, Apollo volleyball players are among the many student-athletes who feel blocked by new requirements to slow the spread.
A four-week time-out from all adult and youth athletic events was just one of many new requirements announced Nov. 18 by Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz.
The team was having a good season with two final matches planned the week of Thanksgiving before playoffs started Dec. 1. Those games were canceled like many others this season.
“It’s disappointing, but I understand why it has to be done,” said Sean Roquette, head volleyball coach at Apollo High School.
“This has been a roller coaster ride since August,” Roquette said, with the Minnesota State High School League first announcing that fall sports would be delayed until spring and then announcing fall sports would be played in fall.
“We’ve had many highs and lows,” Roquette said, “and just when you think you are out of the woods, the season endsabruptly.”
“From day one, we’ve been taking it day by day,” he said. “We committed to enjoying every practice, every game, every time we could be in the gym together.”
Apollo Junior Aaliyah Mixteco of St. Joseph said they were never sure how many games they were going to get.
“We always knew that we didn’t know what would happen next, if tomorrow was going to be our last day,” she said. “So we always played like it was our last day.”
That last day came just two matches before playoffs.
“Obviously, we are bummed that the season’s over,” Mixteco said. “But we are happy with the outcomes since we had a better season than we’ve had in years.”
The new COVID-19 restrictions were announced as the spread of COVID-19 skyrocketed across the state, and hospitals voiced concern about the ability to treat those who fall ill, the governor’s office reported. In addition to the volleyball season ending early, girls’ and boys’ basketball seasons have been delayed.
The Apollo Eagles volleyball team understood the seriousness of the situation.
“As coaches, we are so proud of these players,” Roquette said. “They’ve taken COVID seriously. They decided to wear masks in practice and do what they needed to do to keep their teammates safe. Kudos to these players, and the way they’ve handled the uncertainty with such dignity and grace.”