By Morgan Walsh
The East Greenwich High School Unified Volleyball athletes started the school year as many other teams did: without a season. Along with football, girls volleyball, and competitive cheer, it was among the sports unable to compete during this fall due to the Covid-19 pandemic. In a typical year, unified athletes and their partners would have indoor practices to prepare for competition with other teams and enjoy playing a sport they love.
“We’re so eager to play volleyball and it’s so sad we can’t now,” said Johnny Marasco, the team’s captain along with Emma Gianelli, “It does take away a lot of the competitiveness we miss from previous seasons.”
“I think everyone missed it more than I thought they would. All of a sudden, we had everyone asking when practice would be and saying, ‘Please, can we play volleyball,’” added Emma in agreement.
The team did not give up the season, though. Still holding regular practices, they began to experiment with different activities, such as running the new fitness trail at the EGHS and playing frisbee or golf.
“It was cool to see the athletes so excited for it [practice],” said Emma, “Even the days when I was like, ‘I’m tired, I don’t feel like running the trail or playing frisbee,’ I would see one of them in school and they would say they were so excited to play frisbee after school…It made it so much more worth it.”
In addition to trying out new sports, the team also got creative with projects to give back to the school community. They started with writing messages in chalk on the walkway to the school’s main entrance. This brightened students’ day with positive messages such as “Have a Wonderful Day” and “You Got This!”.
Following the chalk messages, the team decided to make a “sensory path” with the help of their coaches Mrs. Carrosotto and Mrs. McKay. The path is located along the side of the school parallel to the track. The path is made of different colored shapes spray painted along a cement walkway. Each one coincides with a different activity, such as a jumping jack square, a line to serve as a balancing board, and a ladder for drills. In addition, they have created an attachment for workout bands on a nearby tree and plan on adding other equipment such as kettlebells.
The inspiration came from Emma’s experience babysitting over the summer. “Over quarantine, I would babysit for my neighbors who lived right across the street from me,” she explained, “I would go outside and draw obstacle courses with chalk for them. I liked it because I could sit in my yard and watch them and play with them but still have it be non-contact. One day I was just walking out of my house and there were a bunch of random kids from the neighborhood playing on it, so I just kept looking out the window, and there were so many kids. So I kept making it [the chalk obstacle courses] and made them all in different spots.”
They’re calling it Avenger Avenue and are excited to not only enjoy it themselves, but to share it with others as well. They take pride in knowing that they can share what they made with fellow EGHS Avengers.
As Johnny says to other teams, “Get involved with the community as much as you can. Whether that’s something as simple as a clean up on main street, just get involved with your community.”