After the baseball, softball and track seasons were cancelled due to threats of COVID-19, Fall season sports starting normally seemed like an outlandish idea. Due to the UIL ruling for 5A and 6A schools, Fall season sports were pushed back until the end of September. This gave coaches and players hope of a “semi-normal” season, or at least more time to get prepared. Within this extra time to develop players for the season, volleyball and football teams are required to abide by strict safety protocols in order to prevent the spread of the virus. Although things may seem incredibly different, the same team spirit from seasons prior still remains.

After a successful previous season, the volleyball program will enter its second season with a new coaching staff.

“[Coach Mercer is] making sure we’re in shape and prepared for any opponent that we’ll have this year,” senior middle blocker, Taelor Willis said. “She’s doing the same thing she would do for a regular season.”

While practices contain the same drills and workout as any other season, it is no surprise that social distancing and mask wearing plays a big factor into how practices are structured.

“We are required to wear masks anytime that we aren’t involved in activity,” Willis said.

Although the athletes are trying their best to work quickly to get prepared for season, the shortened amount of pre-season puts the team at a disadvantage.

“A huge difference would be the slowest progression of the start of the season,” Willis said. “We have been doing skills and strength and conditioning since July, so we’ve been prepared and in shape to jump back into the gym. We just have to go a little quicker and make sure we’re ready for the season, despite the setbacks.”

Among all the changes, the same close knit bond that was created last season still remains.

“We are together all the time so creating a bond isn’t to difficult, however we also have outside of school team bonding activities,” Willis said. “To keep a sense of normalcy, we’re just practicing and competing as if it’s a normal season, with the same goals and intensity that we usually would have.”

As for football, this season will be something never seen before. After hiring a new head football coach, Marshall Williams, this Fall season was already going to look different since February. With new team initiatives and different practice structures, the team was almost ahead of the curve for COVID. Throughout the summer, the football program held their yearly camp, in order to prepare players for the season. This camp also allowed for players to create relationships that will last throughout the season.

“It was rough in the start but our coaches really helped with keeping us [socially] close and also teaching us new info and skills during our zoom meetings that took place over the spring time,” senior Temi Ejuwa said. “We also were involved in socially distant summer workouts similar to MAC [Making A Champion] camp and now practices getting us ready for the season.”

Ejuwa said that the main difference between this season and last season is the new coach.

“He sees our potential and knows we can accomplish great things and he expects great things out of his players too,” Ejuwa said.

Williams was previously the Assistant Head Coach and Offensive Coordinator at Southlake Carroll, with his teams going 26-2 over the two seasons he was there.

While looking at the future, the team is also trying to correct previous mistakes in order to have a successful season.

“Last year, a lot of our issues with the team could be placed on poor execution on our special teams, but this year there is extra emphasis on doing everything right and with full intensity,” Ejuwa said.

Even though it is unsure if spectators will be allowed to attend games for safety precautions, it is no doubt that all Falcon fans are excited for this Fall sports season. This year, all volleyball and football home games will be available to watch live on NFHS. Even if students cannot physically be there to cheer on the athletes, they will be able to do so virtually.

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