Posted/Updated: 3/19/2020 12:49:55 PM

Volleyball seniors keep up hopes season will eventually resume

In the eyes of a Pennsylvania high school athlete, how much tougher can times truly get? Especially the seniors competing in a spring sport.

For those seniors, this was supposed to be their time.

Years of hard work. The anticipation of becoming leaders. Sharpening each skill set until being forged into kings of their respective sports.

Now, due to the coronavirus postponing the spring sports season, the athletes are left with several questions. Perhaps the most difficult to face is the uncertainty of competing with their childhood teammates again.

But talk to senior volleyball players in the Eastern Pennsylvania Conference and optimism shines bright. Whitehall's Dylan McGinley and Emmaus' Noah Szankovics, two of the EPC's top players, are not giving up on the season, and refuse to believe it's over.

McGinley, an outside hitter, played a crucial role in Whitehall’s recent success. The Zephyrs won the District 11 Class 3A title last year and were runners-up the year before. Should the season pick back up, Whitehall returns a solid core of players and will be in the mix once again.

“I felt completely devastated because not only is my senior season on the line, but all the seniors from other schools as well. It stung really bad that the season has been postponed and possibly not a chance to pick back up,” McGinley said. “I’ve just been keeping my hopes high and working out to make sure I keep my head right because this season isn’t over to me until I hear that it officially is. We can’t lose focus even for a second, even if the season isn’t in full effect right now.”

McGinley spoke of his team’s energy and top-notch work ethic, qualities that recently have surrounded the Whitehall program.

"Our team practiced super hard before the virus and we all just have such a strong mindset for this season," McGinley said. "Everyone is still locked in and will remain locked in. We gotta stay Zephyr tough."

Szankovics is a part of an Emmaus squad that has also had gold medal performances in recent years. The Green Hornets won back-to-back district titles in 2017 and 2018. The team reached the PIAA semifinals both years as well.

Excited to add on to the Emmaus tradition, Szankovics is left frustrated. He has reason to be.

“I’m not surprised they shut everything down. But with all the talk about it being shut down longer, I’m bummed out because it’s my senior year. It would be my last year to play for Emmaus and Coach (Ken) Dunkle,” Szankovics said. “Hopefully we get back soon. During the break, I’m just going to keep my normal routine. I will use it as a break to rest up, that way when we go back, I’m fresh and ready to get down to business. I’m ready to put in the work and get those EPC and district titles.”

While the players are doing what they can to remain focused during the shutdown, some area volleyball coaches are feeling helpless.

The coaches will not see their athletes until school is back in session, which as of now, isn’t until March 30 at the earliest.

Despite the dark times, Dunkle brought a more positive, laid back approach to his team’s last practice on Friday.

"I kept it a more fun practice since I thought it might be a bit until we have another one. The guys were in a good mood. I'm not sure it has really sunk in that this could have a significant impact on their season," Dunkle said. "There isn't much we can do but wait and see where it goes from here. Right now, the big concern is that all the boys and their families stay healthy."

The last thing Whitehall needs right now is a lull in its season, as the Zephyrs have been on fire the past two years. Coach George Cowitch is anxious to get back on the court.

“Our players are not excited at the fact that the season could be in jeopardy,” Cowitch said. “They are smart, rational kids and understand team safety and safety of others is the utmost importance right now.”

Questions/Comments? Contact Scott Trumbauer