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A New Game: Volleyball During COVID-19

An Interview with PCS Volleyball Coach Breanna Johnson

Varsity Volleyball Head Coach Breanna Johnson
with the 2020 PCS Varsity Girls team

Breanna Johnson joined the PCS community this year as the head coach of our varsity girls volleyball team. Coach Johnson graduated from Channelview High School. During that time she played for the Willowbrook Volleyball Club then went on to play at Norfolk State University. While there, she was awarded outstanding freshman and conference player of the week and set a record for the most kills by a freshman in school history. Coach Johnson has coached club and school volleyball for eight seasons, including two as varsity coach. In 2018, she assisted her team in winning second in the state in the TAPPS state championship.

In addition to her bachelor′s degree in Business Management, Coach Johnson earned an MBA from Keller Graduate School, and in 2018, she obtained her Ph.D. in leadership and organizational change from Walden University. She has been married for seven years and is a mother to three children. Coach Johnson is excited to continue to build on a successful volleyball tradition in the Providence Classical School Community.

Coach Johnson recently shared her thoughts on the PCS Athletics program and coaching volleyball during the COVID-19 pandemic.

How have the PCS volleyball and athletics programs been impacted by COVID-19?

In the midst of this pandemic, one can experience so many different emotions. Going from a normal, social lifestyle to a stay-at-home order and face masks while in public can be a major adjustment. Athletics has traditionally been a means to build school spirit and culture and to allow students with common interests to convene and compete. Once athletics was allowed to proceed, when I walked into the gym I could see the light in the players’ eyes. Some were excited to see their friends, and some were excited to be playing volleyball again. But all were thrilled to be out of the confinement of their homes.

In the Houston area, we felt the magnitude of COVID-19 when the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo was shut down. From there the domino effect commenced. NBA gone, MLB postponed, schools closed, and the city shut down all in a matter of a few weeks. COVID-19 has not only redefined but also highlighted exactly how crucial athletics is and how intricate it is to our feelings of normalcy.

Students and adults alike are now more appreciative of the opportunity to play and watch sports and no longer view it as simply a luxury. Players now value their teammates in the sisterhood/brotherhood that sports provide. Athletes can now walk into a gym with open minds and hearts and ready to be receptive to what their coaches ask of them.

Middle School Head Coach Kenneth Maldonado with Middle School A team

How has COVID-19 changed your approach to coaching?

The traditional coaching approach is simply no longer applicable at this time. We have to provide a getaway — somewhere for the players to escape the confinement of their homes. Although safety has always been a priority, sanitation is now a heightened concern. When I initially had the opportunity to return to the gym, my backpack was full of Lysol, hand sanitizer, and extra masks. I have had to normalize wearing a mask in an athletics setting where one’s air supply is usually somewhat limited. Our players can no longer embrace or even warm up normally like we are accustomed to doing. We now have adopted the air 5, fist bump, and the six feet apart stretching session. We enter and exit the gym with PPE in tow, and temperature checks have become a normal part of our check-in process.

How will we push forward through the pandemic?

In March 2019, Covid-19 took the athletics world by surprise. No one was “equipped” to keep their players engaged when there were no face-to-face interactions. We immediately had a coaches meeting and figured a virtual approach would be the most effective way to stay in contact. We started sending out drills for the girls to perform at home. Once they sent the video back of them performing the drills, we were able to give feedback to correct technique and provide next steps. We started having weekly Zoom meetings where we conducted discussions about college, playing strategies, and overall goals in life.

This is something that I want to continue and expand on while at Providence. There are so many things that are out of our control during the pandemic, but at least this season, we will be prepared for anything that comes our way. Zoom can now be utilized for film studies, virtual workouts, and team bonding games. We’ve done yoga at 9 a.m. and been able to show off our favorite yoga poses. We’ve held scavenger hunts around our houses for various items. What the pandemic has taught us, if nothing else, is that where there’s a will, there’s a way. The Lady Paladins will be ready to execute in whatever circumstances we are faced with and will continue to grow and to develop our craft.

Middle School Assistant Coach Amy Jove with Middle School B team

How can our school community support our volleyball teams during this period of social distancing?

Although our volleyball athletes can only invite two spectators to each game, Paladin fans can watch games live on the PCS Booster Club Facebook page. PCS families can also encourage our athletes by letting their support be known. Even if you cannot physically be there, simply mentioning the games when you see players out in the community or at school will make a world of difference.

Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last, but we do it to get a crown that will last forever.
1 Corinthians 9:25

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