With the Southland Conference’s decision to postpone fall semester sports this year in response to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, teams at Nicholls State University are remaining hopeful for the opportunity to compete in the spring.
We’ll be taking you inside the Colonels’ fall sports programs as they look for the silver living in their newfound extra months of training and preparation.
Volleyball | Head Coach: Kallie Noble
Nicholls’ beach volleyball program had wrapped up two tournaments and was approaching its third of the season when the SLC announced that all spring sports competitions would be cancelled for the remainder of the semester.
Now, the program is facing another setback with the postponement of its indoor volleyball season.
Since the decision, Head Coach Kallie Noble said the team has been redirecting its focus to viewing its now-wide-open fall as an opportunity to train and improve on fundamentals for the next 13 weeks. The coaching staff decided to give the team three days off of workouts to regroup following the announcement.
She said the energy at practice this week was high—a factor she attributes to the relief that comes with no longer having to face uncertainty over the fate of the fall season.
“We were in the unknown for so long…so I think just having a definitive answer and being able to move forward from that, and just kind of giving them a mental break and a workout break for three days, I think we’re kind of in a good place now to move forward and just continue training to get better,” Noble said.
For now, the team will engage in eight hours of workouts each week: four hours of strength and conditioning, and four hours of practice.
The Colonels finished last season with 11 wins, their highest since 2012, and narrowly missed a trip to the SLC Tournament. Noble, who is entering her second season as the Colonel’s head coach, said she now sees a fight and desire in her athletes to improve even further and reach the conference tournament.
A small group of players voluntarily returned to campus in June for workouts, Noble said. By July, the entire team had voluntarily returned.
“They were so close to making the conference tournament last year. I think that that has carried over, and we’re not given each day, and they really step into the gym realizing that now, feeling like they didn’t take advantage of the opportunity last season,” Noble said.
Noble said she and her staff have approached the last few months in an honest and up-front manner, making players aware of the decisions they may need to make. For example, the team has four seniors who would likely have to determine whether to graduate or accept another year of eligibility to play next year if the indoor season does not take place.
In addition, she said she has continued to remind her players of the importance of staying safe in the midst of the pandemic through mask-wearing, social distancing and hand-washing.
Above all, the coaching staff emphasizes the importance of remembering the team’s end goal.
“We talk a lot to them about what’s their ‘why.’ Why are they here? What motivates them? We just talk a lot about that, and we encourage them to look at that each day,” Noble said.
If the indoor season is rescheduled to the spring, it will fall in the same semester as the beach season, which begins toward roughly the end of February or the beginning of March. Most of the program’s athletes are members of both the indoor and beach rosters, putting them in a unique position if such a scenario plays out.
While she has not been a part of any formal discussions surrounding the potential structure of a spring indoor season, Noble said she anticipates that a shortened indoor season would take place in January or February ahead of the beach season.
When the Colonels do resume, Noble said fans can expect to see the Colonels ready to fight.
“I think you can see them come out with their fight and fire,” Noble said. “I think you can just see their level of play improve and their energy and their want to be at the conference tournament.”