Volleyball adapts workouts, prepares for season


This story was originally published in the first edition of The Lion’s Tale (October 6, 2020).

The beginning of the new school year also starts the fast pace of sports. Oviedo High School (OHS) does not take any sport lightly, especially volleyball. The athletic director at OHS, Jennifer Darty, is also the girl’s varsity volleyball coach. Darty, an alumna, is returning for her tenth season this year as the head coach.  

“There is something really, really special about high school sports and high school athletes,” Darty said. “In high school volleyball specifically they play in front of [many people you know and love] but also you get to take pride in the jersey you’re putting on and it just produces a really  special atmosphere, and I love taking the court with those  kids every single night.” 

 Kate Ridenbaugh is the assistant coach for the varsity team and an alumna of the Oviedo volleyball program. The junior varsity coach is Jeff Schneider. Jess Amador, who is also an alumna of the OHS volleyball program, leads the freshman team. The newest addition to the team of coaches is Peyton Caffrey, who played beach volleyball for  FSU. These coaches worked hard to create the outstanding volleyball program that Oviedo High School has by testing not just the girl’s physical toughness and volleyball talent, but their mental toughness. This year would have been no different, but then along came COVID-19.  

Ultimately, with many things being cancelled, including the open gyms and camps, the staffing team created online summer workouts to be completed at home. The workouts were posted Monday through Friday for ten weeks. These included Mile Mondays, arm days, leg days, positional training, soft tissue stretches and on rare occasions, off days. These days were filled with self-reflective questions,  mostly focusing on targeting the subject of what it means to be a Lion. All coaches were surprised with the number of girls who completed the workouts. 

 Juniors Kylie Love, a varsity setter, and Raven Wrobleski, a varsity outside hitter, both agreed that these workouts would push the girls to their limits. Love disliked  Mile Mondays but realized their benefit. 

“It was probably the most effective [workout] because it helped my stamina so much,” Love said. 

Wrobleski preferred Thursday workouts and found them more effective. 

“There was a lot of running and also just weight workouts mixed into that, and it was a lot of hard work, but that was definitely the hardest for me,” Wrobleski said. 

Incoming freshman Susan Geber, a middle blocker,  enjoyed the summer workouts, but she was surprised when her first expectation of the workouts, that they would be run-of-the-mill, was defied. 

“Darty adds her own flare to every workout, so I thought it was fun and pushed me a lot, Geber said. “I think in the  end it was worth it.” 

 Leading the varsity team are four seniors. Lily Andrews  and Cambry Emberson, liberos; Stephanie Geber, middle blocker; and Mia Tagye, varsity setter, are in their last season. Tayge believes it’s important to enjoy one’s time in high school. 

“Cherish the moments you have in your sports and during high school because it goes by really fast,” Tayge said. 

As seniors, student-athletes talk to college coaches  and other students try to apply to colleges and choose the  major they want to pursue. But in this unusual year, this process has become more challenging. Stephanie Geber has already started to look into colleges, not just to play but to further her education. 

“I want to find a good fit for me academically because that’s more important to me than playing,” Geber said.  In past seasons, the only things OHS volleyball teams worried about were their performance and defeating their main rivals, the Hagerty Huskies, but this season is different. There were many obstacles coming into this new season including making sure the girls were practicing the  CDC guidelines of wearing masks and social distancing.  Both Emerson and Andrews said their main concern was the possibility of the season getting cut short or someone on the team getting sick because of the coronavirus.