What was supposed to go down as a record-setting year for the LSU beach volleyball team turned into a year of pandemics, social movements and hurricanes.
However, with so much uncertainty and the Tiger’s sidelined for the foreseeable future, one thing was clear when the team members went their separate ways for the summer. The sandy Tigers were determined not to let their hard work go to waste.
As time passed, the Tigers prepared for how different their school year was going to be. It was evident that if they wanted a chance at the NCAA title, they would have to abide by a new set of rules and protocols to ensure their safety.
The sandy Tigers returned to Baton Rouge on Aug. 12 to start a mandatory 14-day quarantine. During this time, they realized the magnitude of how different things were going to be for them in the coming months. However, it also gave the team members time to reflect and map out their goals for their 2021 campaign.
Fifth-year senior Claire Coppola had planned the 2020 season as her farewell tour. However, due to the pandemic, Coppola made the decision to put her life on hold and come back for a chance to win gold in 2021 with her teammates.
“My goals are still the same as last year and every year I’ve been at LSU,” Coppola said. “I want to win a national championship, and I will stop at nothing to get there.”
Many of Coppola’s teammates were thinking the same way. Seventh-year player Toni Rodriguez is thankful that LSU and the NCAA are giving athletes the best chance possible to represent their universities.
“It means a lot to know LSU and the NCAA are doing everything they can to give us an opportunity to play, especially for us seniors who are getting to come back,” Rodriguez said. “We are looking forward to doing whatever it takes to compete.”
While the Tigers are looking forward to the future, it is hard not to wonder what could have happened last year. Head coach Russel Brock wished he could change everything that has
happened in relation to COVID-19.
“We wish all the fear, pain, illness, death and economic challenges would have never happened,” Brock said. “However, if the byproduct was we were able to finish the season, then that would be a wonderful silver lining.”
Ultimately, the LSU beach volleyball team will always wish that their 2020 dream season could have had the fairytale ending it deserved, but due to the effects of COVID-19, they look forward to 2021.
Sixth-year player Taryn Kloth plans to face the season with strong leadership and effective communication.
“We will face this season head on and tackle any adversity that comes our way, together,” Kloth said.
LSU beach volleyball will continue to train through the fall to chase the team members’ dream of winning their first NCAA national championship in Gulf Shores, Alabama.