BRONXVILLE, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — Numerous college sports programs have been cut due to COVID-19. But one school found a way to play on by combining its efforts.
“Teammates” is not gender specific. That’s fitting for a team made up of women and men.
“It doesn’t feel too different from a normal season, to be honest. It feels like what playing with women would,” player Davis Mathis said.
Instead of canceling volleyball this year, Sarah Lawrence College in Bronxville combined the men’s and women’s teams. The co-ed group of 10 women and four men is playing exclusively against men’s teams. The NCAA believes this is a first.
“I think the guys have learned more from the women in terms of ball control and how to play volleyball pretty much from top to bottom,” player Nate Davis said.
In a game Overmyer saw, Sarah Lawrence was playing against a team with a front line that averages 6-foot-7. The men’s game is more powerful, but the women’s game is built on chemistry and teamwork.
“If you just recorded our side of the net you would think we win every point,” Sarah Lawrence coach Sovanny Ebbesen said.
The team has only played a few games this season, and while it hasn’t been not winning, it hasn’t gotten blowout. The average score has been 25-15. In a year where programs are being cut, just getting on the court is its own victory.
“I haven’t played volleyball, like an actual game, in over a year. So, I’m happy to be playing in any way, shape or form,” player Skyler Kawecki-Munio said. “I think that we all love volleyball so much that we’re happy to play no matter who it is.”
“It has exceeded my expectations, for sure. It’s the reason I’m back on campus and not doing Zoom school,” Mathis added.
The women are playing on a net that’s eight inches higher, and against competition that’s taller by a foot. The men and women will continue to play as a unit, feeding off each other’s energy.
“When we’re in practice it doesn’t feel like girls and boys on a men’s team. It just feels like a team that’s playing together,” Mathis said.
And together, their games will go on.
The women say that playing against competition that’s a foot taller than them is just going to make them better when things go back to normal.