It’s a start of a new era for volleyball at Grand Island Senior High.
Marcus Ehrke got going with his first few practices as the new coach for the Islanders, which started on Monday.
Ehrke takes over for Bill Root, who coached Grand Islandfor the past 19 seasons.
Ehrke, who guided Sidney to the state volleyball tournament last year, said the first days have gone well.
“It’s been a smooth transition so far,” he said. “It’s a work in progress every day. We’re going to make sure we are getting better each day. I’ve seen a lot of improvement each day already from — freshman to senior —and that’s a good sign. I’ve seen a lot of good things as far as the willingness of getting better and be flexible with change. Hopefully good things will happen because of that.”
The first two days have just been tryouts, where he tested the players on their volleyball skills, such as ball control, setting, attacking, among other skills.
Ehrke said 43 athletes tried out.
With COVID-19 going around, the players and coaches wore masks during practices to help with minimal exposure of spreading the virus. A few of the players were in quarantine a few weeks ago.
The players cleaned and santized the balls after each practice, had them take their temperatures before entering the building, while trying to remain six feet apart whenever possible.
“(The masks) are something new for us and for the majority of the teams in the state,” Ehrke said. “I was super proud of the kids during the first days. They didn’t complain and did what they were told to do as far as masks were concerned. It’s something we have to do, especially at a bigger school.”
Ehrke said he wants the players to enjoy playing together, because there are still a lot of unknowns of what going to happen during the course of the season, mostly because of COVID-19.
“We need to make sure that we are present and winning the day, and enjoying each day because we never know what’s going to happen tomorrow,” Ehrke said. “You don’t want to look back and feel like you weren’t successful with the time you were given. Hopefully the players have a new perspective and enjoy every single day that we have with all this unknown.”
The Islanders open their season with Lincoln East Aug. 27 at GISH.
Ehrke said he’s excited to have the season get under way.
“I’m excited with everything. I’m all for having a season and looking forward to being out on the court, whether it’s in a mask or distance, whatever we have to do. I love the game of volleyball and I’m all for promoting the game in the town of Grand Island and really looking forward to being here.”
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