Switching Up Fall Sports

When CHSAA announced that football, volleyball, and boys soccer would be postponed until next spring, many athletes scrambled to make adjustments. Some decided to compete in the same sports for club teams or continue training on their own. Others opted to try their hand at something completely new by joining one of the fall teams that was cleared for competition, particularly softball and boys tennis.

Making Every Moment Count

Tennis coach Bill Epping saw his program jump from the usual 60-65 student-athletes to roughly 80 players. Several football, soccer, and fall baseball players joined to hone their skills in a lifelong sport and enjoy the opportunity to compete. 

Coach Epping credits his assistants and returning players with creating a culture that makes this unique season possible, saying, “As a team we are focused on what we can control, and we understand that what CHSAA or the state decides is out of our control. We are focused on playing with Christ this year and making a difference every day.”

Senior David Bomgaars is trying to enjoy his final season at Valor by taking it one day at a time. Both new and returning players have banded together, he says, “because we never know where it could all be canceled so we are just enjoying every second.”

Team First Mentality

Coach Keith Wahl strives to build a culture on the softball team that welcomes new student-athletes, regardless of their level of experience. This fall’s change of plans brought more new players than usual.

Freshman Delaney Russell decided that the delay in her fall volleyball season was an opportunity to try something new. She says, “I have really loved getting to know the coaches and girls on both varsity and JV. My experience has been greater than I could have ever imagined. I have learned so much and I continue to learn more and more every practice/game.”

The new players fit right into the “family” dynamic on the softball team. Senior Ally Shadwick has played on the team for four years, but this year’s camaraderie stands out to her. She says, “I’m not sure if it is because of the virus or not, but we are the closest and most positive team that I have been on so far. We are all just like sisters and I’m so thankful to be a part of the amazing team!

In all, these 27 student-athletes come from varied backgrounds but rally together to support each other on the diamond. Coach Wahl attributes their team chemistry to their faith in Christ, saying, “We have such a wide spectrum, from girls who want to play Division 1 softball to girls who have never picked up a softball before, but we all recognize that we are all children of God.” 

This year, student-athletes are experiencing invaluable life lessons in the face of adversity and unexpected challenges. As a coach with a front-row seat to his players’ lives, Wahl notes, “There’s a huge level of receptivity to talking about the depths of life and the goodness God has for us. We’ve seen a whole new level of spiritual growth that I’m humbled to be a part of.” 

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