According to Gov. Tom Wolf’s Plan for Phased Reopening, and the Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Association’s return to play guidelines during the COVID-19 pandemic, just 25 people will be able to gather at indoor sporting events this fall.
That means volleyball matches are going to get a major facelift.
So what’s it going to look like inside gyms across the area? Unlike anything you’ve seen at a volleyball match, for starters. Like no handshakes, no team huddles, and potentially even substitute players — gulp — waiting outside in the hallway.
Lancaster-Lebanon League volleyball chair Roger Czerwinski, Cocalico’s athletic director, shared the league’s recommended match-day guidelines — and that’s all they are: recommendations. Individual schools, athletic directors and game managers will ultimately implement their own game-day procedures, but the league’s recommendations are meticulous, from pre-match to post-match protocols — and every detail in between.
L-L League volleyball matches start the week of Sept. 21.
Other recommendations include only one team being allowed in the gym during warmups — which would be a single 10-minute session — using a three-ball rotation so balls can be sanitized at the scorer’s table between points, and chairs to be situated six feet apart at team benches for social distancing purposes.
LNP | LancasterOnline contacted Gov. Wolf’s office this week to see if he’s budging on the 25-person limit. The short answer is no. And he's already mandated that there will be no fans permitted at any athletic events this fall, just players, coaches, staff, game managers and the like.
“The current mitigation orders on gathering limitations state that indoor events and gatherings of more than 25 persons are prohibited, and outdoor events and gatherings of more than 250 persons are prohibited,” press secretary Lyndsay Kensinger replied in an email.
PIAA executive director Dr. Robert Lombardi said last week that his office has been in touch with the governor’s staff about allowing more people to attend sporting events this fall. Lombardi has mentioned his desire to have at least two immediate family members be allowed into events for safety purposes, and that he’d like the governor to consider letting the venue fill 25 percent of its occupancy for family and fans.
To date, Gov. Wolf’s 25 and 250 numbers remain firm — with no fans.
More highlights from the L-L League’s recommendations for volleyball matches:
— Total people in the gym would include the players on the court, plus two coaches, two PIAA officials, two line judges, three people working the scorer’s table, an athletic trainer and the game manager. That's it.
— Using a gymnasium hallway or a curtain to house substitute players, who must social distance. Also, using an auxiliary gym or even a classroom to house substitute players, who again must social distance in that area.
— One official, plus one coach and one player from each team to gather for the pre-game captain’s meeting, while socially distancing, at mid-court. Both teams would clear the gym at that time, and return for the start of the match.
— Players would bring their own water bottles, and during timeouts they'd socially distance and avoid handshakes before, during and after matches.
— The league recommends limiting your roster size for away matches, and scheduling JV matches on a different day if necessary.