By Jeffery Armstrong
Not only will the Morrow High Lady Mustangs have to start a new volleyball season without superstar athlete Kirby Copeland (who signed with Virginia Tech), but the Lady Mustangs will face another obstacle in their quest to make the state volleyball playoffs in 2003.
Due to much-needed renovations inside Morrow's gym, the volleyball team begins the first day of school without a home court. The Lady Mustangs will have to play all their games on the road this year.
"It will be a big inconvenience and it will be hard on the girls," said Morrow head volleyball coach Yolanda Jenkins, right before the team began practice at Forest Park Middle School. "They will have to work in school all day, come here for an evening practice, then go home and do homework. By mid-season, that'll get old."
Despite the fact that the team will play all its games away from Morrow, Jenkins said everything will work out down the line as far as their gym is concerned.
"I'd rather put up with this now if it means having a better facility to play in," she said. "Our gym desperately needed to be renovated. When everything's done, the gym should look a lot cleaner."
The facelift for Morrow's gym will include: a fresh paint job, wall fans to help make it a little cooler, new hanging halogen lights, renovated locker rooms and offices and a renovated concession stand. The balcony was also removed to create extra room.
Work on the gym started before the end of the last school year and Jenkins said she knew she had to prepare for the worst.
"I talked to other school volleyball coaches about how they dealt with gym renovations and I heard all their horror stories," she said. "I knew what I had my work cut out for me."
Jenkins said in this type of situation, planning is very important.
"I had to make sure every detail was covered," she said.
That meant she had to coordinate everything from where the girls would practice to whether or not they take the uniforms with them to practice. It was a lot of work.
Jenkins had to find help from outside Morrow for practice purposes, since Morrow Middle School's gym is also being renovated. After two months of phone calls, Forest Park Middle School principal Dr. Mack Bullard decided to let her use his gym for volleyball and summer basketball practice. Morrow practice begins at 6 p.m. and ends around 8:30 p.m.
Morrow senior Tara Ramsey said she will have to get used to playing all her games on the road.
"It will be hard; most teams are used to playing some home games in front of fans and friends," she said. "It's hard enough for us to get fans to come to our home games as it is. With this situation, they may not travel to see us play."
Another senior, Nadirah Powell, said that it will be hard for her mother and other teammates' parents to come to all the road games. Despite that, Powell sees the silver lining in an otherwise dark cloud.
"Although I won't get to play in the gym once it's finished, I'm glad this happened for my younger teammates," Powell said. "They'll get to compete in a gym that will look really good."
Powell also said she will miss not having a "Senior Night" n usually the last home game of the season where senior athletes get recognized for their contributions to the team. Jenkins said that won't be a problem for the four seniors on the team.
"We'll come up with something for our seniors, probably something outside of volleyball," she said. "It will most likely be some type of social event."