The Big East announced last week that the suspended championships for the fall season have been tentatively rescheduled to take place next spring.
Three new freshmen members of the women’s volleyball team—Taylor Jakubowski, Perri Lucas and Mary Okereke—shared their thoughts on this new normal of college athletics they have entered and what set the Seton Hall program apart from other schools they considered.
The volleyball freshman class is ready to get back on the court competitively as their senior year in high school was cut short due to COVID-19. The girls said the transition into an unfamiliar and unusual setting has been easy during these times as they have had ample time to get to know the rest of the team.
“The team felt like a family,” Jakubowski said. “It was easy to come in and feel taken in as a freshman. The older girls and coach were super welcoming.”
Okereke said the coaches really impressed her, and she wanted them to coach her. She said she also wanted to play beside the other girls on the team.
“When I first got here, I was scared,” Okereke said. “But after I started to meet everybody, I felt more comfortable.”
For Lucas, it was Coach Yaeger.
“She has the best energy and is like a motherly figure to all of us,” She said. “I could tell that I would be able to learn and improve a lot here.”
This was not what the girls had anticipated in their first year of college volleyball, but they had to adjust to the circumstances, they said.
“We’ve definitely had to adjust to a lot in a short amount of time,” Jakubowski said. “We had to get used to wearing a mask during practice, but now that just seems normal to me. All of us had to get over the news of not having a fall season and not having as many hours of practice.”
All three girls said they agreed that they are more than ready to have a season—if the time is right.
Jakubowski said that practice can get monotonous when there are no games to prepare for, though Lucas said she hopes the Big East and NCAA don’t force a season that isn’t safe for everyone.
Being a part of a new team comes with watching and learning from the seasoned players.
“It’s interesting watching people's different leadership skills when it comes to being aggressive, not hesitating and just being confident in yourself,” Lucas said.
Jakubowski and Okereke both said they felt that senior middle blocker Amanda Rachwal has been a mentor to them so far.
“We're in the same position,” Okereke said. “Every time I see her block or hit, I’m able to learn something from it. All of the middles are helpful to watch in practice.”
Jakubowski said she really looks up to Rachwal. “She’s a great leader and a great teammate to look up to,” Jakubowski said. “I look up to a lot of the older girls too because they all work so hard which makes me want to work just as hard.”
The season is still a few months out, but the possible return of college volleyball is getting the team excited to play again after a long stint of practice and training.
Jenna Powell can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Find her on twitter @jennap0well.