Allen finds bright side to schedule change
Under normal circumstances, Scott Allen and his Lady Commodore players would be gearing up for the start of fall practice on Aug. 1 and their first matches a few weeks after that.
Unfortunately for the Lady Commodores, these circumstances are very far from normal.
Gulf Coast volleyball is among the three Gulf Coast teams whose seasons have been pushed to the spring after the NJCAA’s vote this week to rearrange the sports calendar because of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
Gulf Coast’s men’s and women’s basketball teams also will have to start later than usual, though the volleyball team is the most immediately and dramatically affected, with the Lady Commodores having to wait almost half a year longer than normal to officially start preseason practice.
Still, Allen said the news isn’t all bad and that he and his players are looking for some pros to balance out the cons of the schedule move.
“I think we’d all like to get back to a little more normalcy and playing some volleyball, but to be honest with you the positive is that we didn’t have the spring to work on a lot of the stuff we wanted to work on to get better,” he said. “This gives us the opportunity to get bigger, faster and stronger, and get better at some of the skill-set stuff we identified as stuff we wanted to work on in the spring. Now we’ll have the fall to do that and then hopefully we’ll be able to play some ball in the spring.”
Gulf Coast’s most recent season finished on Nov. 23, 2019, at the Division II National Championship tournament in Charleston, West Virginia, where the Lady Commodores went 2-2 and placed 10th.
It wasn’t the ideal finish that the Lady Commodores had in mind, but considering it was the program’s first trip to a national tournament, it set up as a potential springboard for bigger and better things with Allen going into his third year as coach.
Now, they’ll have to wait a while longer to try to capitalize on that momentum. Gulf Coast will be allowed 60 days of practice between Aug. 15 and Nov. 15, with five scrimmage dates total allowed for the year, two being allowed in the spring.
“This will basically be our offseason,” Allen said. “What we would normally do in the spring we’ll do in the fall and just flip them. This August we’ll start lifting and getting back into strength and conditioning a little bit and then we’ll start touching the ball.”
While the move may be inconvenient or frustrating for the Lady Commodores, it certainly was not shocking given the way things have been going.
“We knew it was a possibility,” Allen said. “I wouldn’t say it was a letdown. We are really happy to get in the gym and get stronger and work on the skill-set stuff we wanted to work on. We want to start playing volleyball and would like to be playing other teams, but if we can get in the gym and even if we’re just playing against each other now, I think we’d be pretty happy doing that.”
The move has caused one issue for Gulf Coast already, with incoming freshman libero Ashtyn Tilton of Florida High a roster casualty after planning on playing for the Lady Commodores and graduating in the fall before enrolling at FSU.
“It definitely hurts, but we’ve got some girls on the roster already that can do some of the same things that Ashtyn can, but this definitely hurts our depth,” Allen said. “I’m not sure how we’re going to approach that, if we’re going to be able to bring somebody else in or what. It’s so late in the game that we’ll probably not have the opportunity to do that.
“We just have to adapt and move on.”