MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - With the Memorial Day Weekend upon us, we’re entering what would typically be a busy season of AAU sports. Everything from youth baseball, to basketball, even volleyball.
The coronavirus has taken away opportunities for local teams to shine on a national stage.
If you’re a volleyball player, you work your entire club season for the AAU national tournament in Orlando. The tournament is still going to happen, but the coronavirus has caused several top teams to pull out of the big event.
Memphian Layla Truitt is one of those players who won’t get to show on the big stage.
“I saw a video the other day of a memory on my phone,” said Truitt. “It was a video of my friends and I putting our stuff on in the lobby before we were about to walk in together. It’s just this sense of like we’re here and we’re here to work hard and to do something.”
That feeling won’t be there for Truitt and her teammates, or six other Memphis Metro volleyball teams. The club made the decision to pull them out of the AAU tournament. Finding it to be the safest decision with the coronavirus still claiming lives.
Jitka Okolicany is the head of Memphis Metro Volleyball.
“It was not easy, because every year this is the top tournament for our top teams,” said Okolicany.
Highly anticipated tournament, it’s the largest tournament in the world. Around 80 players had their seasons end abruptly.
Truitt is on the 16 Elite team. She just finished her sophomore year in high school and felt like this year they were going to do something special. They’d already finished in the Top 5 of most of the tournaments.
“To end it this way and not be able to go, it was just really disappointing because nationals is kind of like our last dance," said Truitt. "It’s our last try to really go for something and see all of our hard work and hours going into the gym into something big on the national stage.”
The time put in is essentially a full-time job, five days a week practicing, working out or playing. It’s also a place for college coaches to recruit the best talent.
“We have a motto at Metro," said Okolicany. "If you’re not working hard, somebody else is.”
Truitt took that to heart. Sending college coaches her at-home workouts to prove she’s being proactive during the pandemic. And hoping to come out of this in the best shape of her life, ready to win on the big stage, next year.
“I can’t wait to get back into the competition aspect again," said Truitt. "There’s really nothing like the adrenaline rush of being on the court with your team, you’re in the middle of a play and there’s passing going on, everyone’s being loud, it’s just really sad that COVID took that away and we couldn’t be in the competition together."
The Memphis Metro Volleyball club has adjusted to COVID-19 as well by holding practices over Zoom to keep their players active and engaged with their teammates.