Minneota girls hit with another sports shutdown

Minneota has just blown out Red Lake in the Class A state basketball quarterfinals on March 19 at Target Center, and were two games away from defending their state title when the tournament was suddenly cancelled.
Confusion and fright ensued when the team was told that COVID-19 had turned into a pandemic after it invaded and swept across our country like locusts on a dry prairie.
The Minneota team returned home, never getting the chance to find out if they would duplicate their heroics of the previous year. They had won the state volleyball title the year before and they were favored to win again in basketball.
So many of the volleyball players on this year's team that had the basketball season snatched away from them were determined to get that championship feeling back. With the majority of their lineup back, they were determined to accomplish the rare feat of capturing three consecutive state titles, seemingly earning the program a "dynasty" label.
But then came the announcement last Tuesday by the Minnesota State High School League Board of Directors that football and volleyball would be moved to the spring because there simply was no way to maintain the necessary social distancing in those sports.
"I know everyone, especially these kids have been on a rollercoaster of emotions these past five months," said Minneota Coach Hayley Fruin. "As much as we all wanted to get in the gym come Aug. 17 and work towards some really high expectations and goals we have set this season, this really is the best case scenario with where things are at."
The volleyball players, many who also were on the basketball team that had their dreams shattered, were devastated as the news broke.
"It is crazy to think of the times we are going through right now," said senior Abby Hennen, an All-State performer in both basketball and volleyball. "I found out about football and volleyball being moved to the spring as I was watching the MSHSL Twitter page for updates."
Minneota had just won a 32-team volleyball tournament in Sioux Falls last week and their confidence was soaring as the regular season neared. But then the season was halted before it got going.
"My initial reaction was that I was disappointed because I would have to wait to play volleyball," said Hennen. "Especially since our team was playing well together already.
"But, after thinking about it, I am thankful they didn’t cancel it completely and we will hopefully have a chance for a threepeat in the spring."
Volleyball is now scheduled to begin on March 15 and conclude on May 15, with spring sports then following from May 15-July 15.
"If we were to have a season this fall, it would have been a shortened season (possibly 10 less matches)," said Fruin. "Tournaments would not happen with them being against schools far away, and at best you could win a section championship, but no state tournament appearance."
There was talk that volleyball and football would be cancelled altogether this fall and spring sports would stay the same.
"Hopefully, by waiting until a later date things will look a lot better," Fruin said. "We are just happy that our season was not cancelled and there is still hope for a season with fans; especially parents. I can't imagine not being able to watch my kid play. And we're still hoping they have playoffs, tournaments and a state tournament."
In this current scenario, there is a possibility that Minneota could win two state titles in 2021 if they won in May and then the regular season started again next fall and they won again in early October.
"I am excited to get back on the court, and these girls are too," Fruin noted. "They are more determined than ever. Can't wait for March."
At least the volleyball season switch from fall to spring will allow Fruin the opportunity to have her baby, which is due Oct. 10, prior to the season beginning.
Hennen said Minneota girls basketball coach Chad Johnston helped her to understand that life throws people a curveball once in awhile following the state tournament being shut down this past winter.
"He told us that even though this is devastating, there are many people losing their jobs and experiencing much worse things because of this," Hennen said. "I do understand the decision made by the MSHSL and I am excited to get back on the court with my teammates."

Hayley Fruin

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