Several St. Thomas More standouts take up new sport this fall due to COVID-19


CHAMPAIGN (WCIA) — Several members of the St. Thomas More volleyball team still have a ball and a net this season, the only difference now is that they’re adding a racket.

“Although I’m really sad that volleyball got postponed I thought it was the prefect opportunity to take up tennis,” St. Thomas More senior outside hitter Maris Green said.

Five volleyball players joined the Sabers’ tennis team this fall, including Green, who had a short tennis career before high school. Most of the newcomers though don’t have any experience.

“It’s definitely a big adjustment,” St. Thomas More junior setter Sophie Vavrik said. “I never really played tennis before besides with my sister, and so playing now is kind of crazy, but I’m having fun and it’s a great way to stay in shape.”

“It’s kind of intimidating taking up a new sport at the high school level with a bunch of girls that you don’t know that well,” Green added. “So we all have each other’s backs.”

Girls’ tennis is one of only four IHSA sports allowed this fall due to COVID-19, along with boys’ and girls’ cross country and golf, along with girls’ swimming. And the pool is where you’ll find both of the Sabers Division I volleyball commits. Anna McClure committed to Ohio State earlier this month, Caroline Kerr verbaled to Tennessee in July.

“It’s been a while since I’ve had a true offseason,” Kerr said. “So I knew that it was a good time for me to try something new and stay in shape.”

“I swam competitively for eight years before I dedicated myself to volleyball,” said McClure. “So I’m super excited to get back in the pool, but I was so rusty I felt like I was going to throw up my first practice back.”

There’s four volleyball players joining the swim team in all this fall, and they were actually able to keep the program afloat. With just two returning swimmers for the Sabers, the team needed at least four to compete.

“We’re going to bring our competitiveness from volleyball and bring a different dynamic to the team,” said Kerr. “And it will be cool to swim with new girls, and meet some new girls that maybe I otherwise wouldn’t have met otherwise.”

“Swimming is just something that keeps you going and it’s really competitive and stuff,” St. Thomas More senior Maci Walters said. “So that’s just what I’m used to.”

Whether it’s a pool or a court, the Sabers will still be able to satisfy that competitive edge this fall, in hopes of getting back to volleyball in the spring. The IHSA announced practices can start Feb. 15, with the first matches allowed March 1.

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