The Malden High Schools head volleyball coach and girl’s volleyball team volunteered to teach fifth through eighth-graders the fundamentals of volleyball. The volleyball clinic started on September 9th, and it ran every Wednesday. It lasted four weeks, though it was scheduled for five weeks. The last session was canceled due to bad weather.
Daniel Jurkowski, head coach of varsity volleyball at Malden High School, and volunteers followed protocols to protect the children from COVID-19; all participants kept their masks on and kept a safe distance from each other, which can be difficult with kids. Jurkowski confirmed that it was very difficult to keep masks on, due to difficulties hearing from a distance and speaking up, but everything worked well and ran smoothly.
He also mentioned that his volunteers helped a lot with keeping the kids in check, especially senior Sophia Duffy, the mask police, as the girls called her. Jurkowski relied on Duffy to check masks and make sure people were following protocol. She reminded the kids of the importance of masks and that they need to have it on to play.
The volunteers saw a lot of improvement during the clinic. Jurkowski said “[he saw] a tremendous amount of progress. The most noticeable aspect [was] their confidence.”
He noticed some kids were nervous or scared on the first day but ended up having fun and building their confidence. He also saw an improvement in their serving and saw consistent progress being made. He enjoyed the look of excitement on the children's faces and hoped they had a good time. He enjoys “teaching and coaching volleyball,” always making sure to have fun as well.
The volleyball program has a strong relationship with Joe Levine, the sports director for the Malden Recreational Department, so it is known that there will be many more opportunities in the future to run these kinds of programs. Jurkowski mentioned that they try to do three or four a year, and the next program will probably be dependent on when it is safe to have one indoors.
Levine informed that they are always looking for new, popular things to do in the city and for the last four to five years it seems like volleyball has blown up everywhere, so that is why they decided to run new volleyball programs.
To start off the clinic, Levine had to contact the high school coach, Jurkowski, and “pick his brain“ to see what they needed to do to prepare. This included separating age groups, picking out dates, finding volunteers, which consisted of the girls volleyball team, then get started and start practices.
To stay safe, Levine sent out emails to families with the information of the clinic and made sure that it contained all of the COVID restrictions, which included talking about social distancing, wearing masks, keeping six feet apart, and trying the best they could about staying away from each other. They were given guidelines on what sports they were allowed to do and thought it was very important that the kids can get out for five weeks and get fresh air.
Levine stated that “[he] is proud to say that [he] is a small part of what happened,” and would like to “bring credit to Coach [Jurkowski] and all the volunteers that helped and made this possible. Without the volunteers, [they would not] have been able to do something like [that].”
Duffy, one of many of the volunteers, started playing her freshman year and has since moved up to the varsity team. She has been playing with the recreational program since she was in third grade. In seventh and eighth grade, she started playing on the high school team.
Duffy decided to volunteer because “[she] saw what it did for [her] when [she] was younger and it really inspired [her] to play and [she] just wanted to give that back, because [there is] always that one kid that needs something to rely on.”
She mentioned how patience is a huge part of teaching someone something they have never done before, to them it is a new concept. “Putting yourself into their shoes is a life skill [she] [has] learned from that, and [it is] something [she] had to teach [herself] before starting the clinic.” Coaching teaches people a lot of life skills that they might not pick up elsewhere. Duffy explained how “learning to be patient and know that your method of explaining something might not make sense, and how to adapt to their needs, makes you more aware of how different people learn.” She normally likes to keep in contact with the participants and see how they grow throughout the years.
The children had the experience to learn from actual high school players and had fun. Most importantly, everyone was safe; participants and coaches were COVID-free during and after practices.