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Volleyball Players Find Comfort in Wearing a Mask While Playing

I thought I was never going to get to play volleyball again once everything shut down due to COVID. But, when restrictions on what we could do started to be lifted, I didn’t even think of how I would play volleyball with a mask. Before my first game, the only time I had worn my mask was when I went out in public to places like the grocery store and the mall. So, when we wore our masks during warms ups the first thing, I thought to myself was, “There is no way I am going to be able to wear this thing for another three games.” I had to realize that being uncomfortable in a mask was not comparable to the thousands deaths due to COVID that were happening at that time every day. So I continued to play in my Target cloth mask no matter how hot and sweaty it got. After a month of playing in October, I was introduced to the Athleta Made to Move mask which changed my comfort level while playing tremendously. With this new mask, I was able to sweat and be active without my mask getting moist and uncomfortable.

Banzai 171 celebrates game point as they finish the first set of their first game Saturday the 14th Downtown at CHI Health Center. Outside hitter Makenzy Povich says “When wearing a mask during our games I feel as if I am more distracted because I can’t sometimes breathe during long rallies and I am constantly pulling it up.” Photo courtesy of Jim Latka.

Fast forward to now and playing club volleyball in convention centers with my team, the amount of people who barely where their masks is astonishing. We’ve all come so far, from the different types of masks we wear, to how often we wear the masks. For me, it’s comforting to see people wear their masks while playing sports and following the COVID precautions.

“I think it’s important to play with a mask right now because you’re on the court with over 20 people plus fans and if you’re contagious then you’re allowing athletes to walk away and contaminate their families as well and there are some people who are in the high-risk category,” teammate Campbell Macy said.

Some of the things I’ve done to help with breathing while wearing a mask is just stepping six feet away or more from my teammates and pull my mask down and to just take a deep breathe to cool down. While playing long matches, it does get a little hard to breathe and cool down with a mask on, but we still need to remind ourselves that wearing a mask can protect you and the others around you.

I serve the ball at game point in the Northern Lights Qualifier located at CHI Health Center in downtown Omaha. Photo courtesy of Jim Latka.

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