Kaitlyn Fulmore, Contributing Writer
With the sun behind Altria Theater, rap music playing from speakers and a slight breeze in the air, a student volleyball tournament in Monroe Park stopped passersby in their tracks. Some paused for a moment to enjoy the now-rare occurrence of casual and friendly competition.
VCU Rec Sports invited students to compete in a volleyball tournament on Oct. 15, and protocols and mask requirements made some student players and onlookers more comfortable.
“Even though it seems like you can’t do anything, it was finally something to do,” junior Ben To said. “The fact that it’s supported by VCU doesn’t make you feel guilty for it. It’s well managed.”
Due to COVID-19, the tournament was held outdoors, contrasting from the usual indoor locations such as Cary Street Gym.
“Seeing everyone being active during corona and having fun is just really nice to see,” said junior Brendan Queener, whose friends’ team, the Ram Yams, made it to the semifinals but lost to opponents Double Dub. “I like cheering on my homies.”
Many in the audience came to watch friends play, but some viewers were curious students walking back to their dorms from dinner.
“It looked like everyone was having fun, so we wanted to watch and see who was winning,” freshman Jairo Argueta said.
The tournament gave organizations an opportunity to hang out and get to know each other. Junior Matt Gonzales said without regular sporting events, it’s hard to get together with his brothers in Sigma Phi Epsilon.
“The only time we would play [last year] was when it was time to play the game,” Gonzales said. “But a lot of brothers wanted to build the brother bond and get together, so we started practicing a lot more.”
With no public sports games being played by any of VCU’s Division I teams, having some form of athletic competition brought back a sense of regular times –– despite all players being required to wear a mask.
“You can’t watch sports anywhere as much or as normal, so this gives you some place to cheer,” freshman Sydney Thornton said. “It gives you some sort of normalcy.”
The event lasted three hours and had a total of 12 teams that played first-to-21-points matches. The last match was a close competition between Double Dub and SigEp. The winner was decided in a first-to-5-points game. With the sun nearly gone, SigEp pulled the victory.
“It was so much fun. I’m not disappointed at all,” said Double Dub player and freshman Raza Hider. “It was super fun meeting everyone here. We’re high fiving from six feet apart, congratulating each other, and it was a good time.”