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Girls Volleyball: Coaches such as Sandburg’s David Vales will be pulling double duty during overlapping seasons

By Jeff Vorva, Correspondent

The plan is simple even, though it’s not a simple situation.

The boys volleyball season was scheduled to open up for practice Monday, but with the COVID-moved girls volleyball season on the spring docket, that is going to create conflicts for people who coach both boys and girls.

The girls season ends on April 24 and there will be no state series.

Sandburg coach David Vales is ready to tackle the problem. The longtime boys and girls coach at the Orland Park school laid out his plans after the girls team dropped a 25-21, 25-14 decision to Mother McAuley in Orland Park on March 31.

For three weeks, the boys will practice in the morning and the girls will practice after school. There are no conflicts with matches, and the Eagles will have a boys/girls doubleheaders at Wheaton-Warrenville South on April 14 and Marist April 20.

The boys season is slated to end June 19. There is no word whether the IHSA will have a postseason tournament.

Vales will be busy, but he said he is ready for his two-a-days.

“It’s fun and it’s a challenge and it’s definitely something I’m looking forward to,” he said.

The new-look Vales used a lot of the pandemic timeout to lose 40 pounds, shave his head for a clean-cut look and read 77 books to help improve the quality of his life.

Even before COVID, Vales said he wanted to make a few changes, and reading David Goggins’ “Can’t Hurt Me: Master Your Mind and Defy the Odds” helped get them rolling. Goggins is an ultra-distance cyclist and triathlete, and became a Navy SEAL after twice being turned down by the special forces group.

“To read that story was an inspiration,” Vales said. “If he could do what he did. … I’m not trying to be a Navy SEAL but I could get my act together. That was motivation. Having my family go through COVID, I was thinking ‘why not get in the best shape you can?’”

He also has a new outlook on volleyball results.

“Losses are a little less painful when you think about what the world is in right now,” he said.

The pandemic forced the boys volleyball season to be canceled in 2020, and Vales did not get to coach his son, also named David, for the younger’s senior season. The elder Vales said that fact hit him last week, after his son’s Concordia College team had its season shut down with a few matches to go because of COVID-19.

“This kid can’t catch a break,” he said. “It made me reminisce about last year. Really, all of the seniors lost out on it.

“It wasn’t just volleyball, which is huge in our family. I never got to coach him his final year; we missed out on Senior Night. It hits you and, man, it’s been rough for those kids. We can’t wait for the day when it gets back to normalcy.”

The Eagles fell to 5-2 after the McAuley loss as the Eagles took a 10-4 lead in the first set, but McAuley (6-0 heading into this week’s action, including a win over rival Marist) roared back and dominated the rest of the way.

Freshman sensation Ellie White had 10 kills and five digs for the Macs. Molly McDermott and Concetta LeBel each had five kills, GiGi Navarrete had 12 digs, and Caroline Macander had 26 assists and nine digs.

For Sandburg, Sidona Rio had five kills, Jordan Paddock and Keegan Carey had four each and Bianca May had 15 assists.

Roll with It
Mighty Macs coach Jen DeJarld has 19 matches scheduled in the abbreviated season, which includes some weeks of four matches played. While some basketball coaches complained of lack of practice time during their shortened season, DeJarld is not fretting about it.

“It’s perfect, we don’t need to practice,” DeJarld said. “We had a lot of [practice] dates in January and February. We’ve been working with these kids – it’s been practice, practice.”

Like all coaches in Illinois with club players, DeJarld has athletes pulling double duty this season. During a normal fall season, the clubs shut down while the high school season is in full swing.

Vball FITZGERALD scaled

Marykate Fitzgerald gets ready to make a diving save against Mother McAuley on Dec. 31. Photo by Jeff Vorva

“Our players have tournaments overt the weekends,” she said. “Sometimes they go to practice after our practice. It’s a lot for them. But they are so excited to play for their high school that I haven’t seen them get tired. We’re trying to be careful with their bodies and making sure we’re aware of any injuries.”

DeJarld added that she hopes her players do not get injured during club action but she can’t control it.

“It is what is it is,” she said. “I can’t worry. It’s like everything this year – you take it one day at a time. You roll with the punches and make changes.”

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