Everywhere, sports are different now. Professional sports are almost being played in bubbles, schedules change on a weekly basis and players are refusing their salaries, all due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Sports are changing at the local level too. High school athletes are going to in-person class every day, along with other students, to make sure that they can continue their athletic career.
Because of this, if athletes are even possibly exposed to the virus, they are required by the Georgia High School Association (GHSA) to quarantine for two weeks before returning to the field.
At this point, every fall sport in Dawson County has been affected by quarantined athletes. Senior Haylie Selzer and Sophomore Emerald Sallee both play varsity volleyball with the Lady Tigers and had to take time away from the court this season to be quarantined. They were not allowed to attend in-person classes, volleyball practices or matches during this time.
The Dawson County News sat down with both athletes to talk about what it was like being quarantined, whether they have any concerns about the rest of the season, and what their careers as volleyball student-athletes have been like.
Why were you quarantined?
Selzer: “I had to quarantine because my sister tested positive for COVID, but I have yet to have COVID at all.”
Sallee: “I had to quarantine because my friend Emily tested positive. I sit right by her in math and I also sit by her during lunch and in the morning.”
What was your daily routine while quarantined?
Selzer: “I normally woke up around 10:30, ate breakfast, and started my online school work. After I finished all my school work, I normally went on a walk in my neighborhood, worked out at home or passed the volleyball with my sister. I would pretty much relax the rest of the day since I was not allowed to leave my neighborhood.”
Sallee: “During quarantine, I would wake up, eat breakfast, take some time to myself to wake up and then check my classes for work. After my work, I would go for a run to do some physical activity.”
What did you miss the most while you were quarantined?
Selzer: “I missed being able to see everyone at school and volleyball. It was really hard for me at first because I was worried that the season may be canceled if all of us were starting to quarantine, meaning that they would cancel senior night as well. Fortunately, that was not the case”
Sallee: “During quarantine, I just missed physical interaction with people. I like being social and being at home was just a mood dampener.”
What was it like being in quarantine, having to miss practice?
Selzer: “I was very disappointed that I could not be back in the gym for another two weeks. Losing gym time and not practicing with my teammates for two weeks was difficult, especially when region play was starting soon.”
Sallee: “Missing practice was overwhelming. I was anxious to get back with the team and be back out on the court. It was hard to miss three games and not being able to support my team as they played. I feel like being there for one another is something important.”
If you were allowed to do online learning and still play your sport, would you?
Selzer: “If I had to do online learning, yes, I would still play volleyball. However, I like staying in school and playing volleyball at the same time better.”
Sallee: “No. I love the interaction you get with people at school. I feel that it’s important for people to be social. You can still hang around your friends but it’s just not the same. I mean, on bad days, sure. Sometimes I wanna go home because I don’t wanna deal with certain people but that’s only one person outta the 100 other people you interact with on a daily basis.”
Are you worried about catching COVID-19 while playing your sport?
Selzer: “Not really because I was in the same house with my sister, and she had it. However, I never was infected by her. Also, I have been around my teammates for months now without any of us catching COVID, and our season has still been going since early August.”
Sallee: “No, I’m more worried about just getting quarantined in general. I’m not scared to get sick, I just don’t want to sit out again.”
What have you loved most about getting back on the court?
Selzer: “I love being able to bond with my team more as our season advances to region play. Overall, I love just being back and being able to play on the court with my teammates again.”
Sallee: “I love that our coaches are pushing us and wanting us to put our best effort.”
What does playing volleyball mean to you?
Selzer: “I have been playing volleyball for almost seven years now, so the sport means a lot to me. Playing volleyball has always been a way for me to have fun, and forget about all the stresses in other aspects of my life.”
Sallee: “Volleyball means so much to me. I love how it brings girls together, cheering one another on, working together and the competitiveness it comes with. It takes a lot of dedication and work. You have to learn to work with others. Being on the team, you can’t just want yourself to succeed. You have to want success for everyone you're on the court with. Almost as if you girls are family and just having that respect for one another.”
What advice would you give to another athlete who is about to be quarantined?
Selzer: “It may seem hard at first, but those two weeks will be over before you know it. Do not let quarantine keep you down because you will be back on the court well rested in no time!”Sallee: “Just take it day by day and make sure you’re still being active. Not being active for 10-14 days is just too much. Gotta still out the work in. It’s not a break for you.”