Friday, 07 August 2020 18:08

Larsens confirm Richmond volleyball, soccer workout plans

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Head volleyball coach Ashleigh Larsen and head soccer coach Chris Larsen are preparing players for the start of voluntary workouts. Head volleyball coach Ashleigh Larsen and head soccer coach Chris Larsen are preparing players for the start of voluntary workouts. Kyle Pillar — Sports Editor.

ROCKINGHAM — Two more of Richmond Senior High School’s fall athletic programs will be getting voluntary workouts underway in the coming weeks.

Head volleyball coach Ashleigh Larsen, and head boys’ soccer coach Chris Larsen, both confirmed with ROSports that they are in the process of getting their much-anticipated seasons started. 

Both entering their third season at their respective positions, the Larsens will become the second and third sports programs to begin workouts since Richmond County Officials cleared athletics to return on Tuesday. Head coach Bryan Till and the football team started Thursday.

Richmond’s volleyball program will start its 2020 pre-season workouts on Monday.

“I’m excited to get back with girls and be around them,” Ashleigh Larsen said. “I’m hesitant on how to go about things, but I’m working hard to make sure we have all our ducks in row.

“I think it’s super important to get back to work because the kids need to get normalcy back in their lives,” she continued. “It’ll be exciting being back together and doing things. Our job is to guide them in the right direction, and that’s what we expect to do.”

Larsen will be joined for the second straight season by junior varsity head coach Melissa Dennis, and varsity assistant and Richmond alumni Madelyn Chappell will be on for her first season.

Having a high number of interested players is always a good thing, but during the pandemic, it’s created a little bit more work for Larsen. She says there are 25 rising freshmen who have shown interest in trying out, and a total of 45-50 players are expected to come out for varsity and junior varsity.

“There are a lot of girls we haven’t met, so it’s stressful to some degree,” Larsen said. “Right now I’m trying to make sure all of them have completed the online paperwork.”

Initially, the volleyball team was cleared to practice indoors, but that limits each training session to just 10 people (seven players and three coaches). Instead, the Lady Raiders will use the lower football practice field so they can work out with up to 22 players.

Even then, players will need to be broken up into smaller groups and socially distance between other groups to ensure their safety.

The focus for the volleyball team during the opening days of workouts will be running and conditioning, things similar to what Larsen has done the past couple of summers prior to the coronavirus. She also wants to incorporate some sort of resistance and weight training, possibly using medicine balls.

Larsen said the team will then progress to “limited use of volleyballs” to go along with “intense cleaning” to abide by CDC and North Carolina High School Athletic Association safety guidelines.

Parents of players have also offered to allow the volleyball team to use grass court nets, which is something the team will work toward using in the coming weeks.

“Even though we’re limited in what we can and can’t do, this is a shining positivity when we all need it,” Larsen said.

Over on the soccer pitch, Chris Larsen is working to meet the same logistical and safety needs as the volleyball and football programs. He also feels that the resumption of high school athletics is something the local sports community needs.

“This is a step forward, and the kids are coming back to school soon,” Larsen shared. “It’s the next logical step to move in right direction. If we’re going to play, we have to start at some point. This is a good transition time.

“By getting into workouts slowly, it’s a good way to get into normal routine. Athletes are used to going to class all day and working on sports in afternoon. A lot of them use extracurriculars as a break. I think it’s going to be good for the kids and gives everyone something to look forward to.”

Larsen plans to begin soccer workouts soon, but hasn’t made a definite decision. He, like many coaches, is working on securing eligibility forms and physicals from players. Another part of the process, depending on the number of kids, is scheduling an assortment of workout times and assigning players time slots and groups to work in.

The soccer program has also continued to see rising numbers of potential players the past few seasons, and Larsen expects there to be about 70-75 kids trying out for varsity and JV.

“I’m a little wary of next step or when we’re going to play,” Larsen said. “I’m probably going to get started after the (Aug. 17-24) dead period. That’s when school starts up and we’ll get after it. That will give us tome to get ready for whatever season we may have, or be ready for when they let us start actually practicing.

Soccer safety guidelines mirror other sports in that only 25 people can meet at one time to work out for 90 minutes. Larsen will have JV head coach Tad Hamilton helping, which would allow for 23 players.

“We’ll focus on conditioning to get the guys back in shape after a delayed offseason,” Larsen explained. “Then we’ll work with soccer balls in small groups, probably two or three groups.

“We can do passing drills and anything that deals with our feet,” he added. “There can’t be a goalie, so shooting drills will see players have to retrieve their own soccer ball. And we can’t do any three-on-three scrimmaging, so there will be a lot of individual drills and partner passing.”

Currently, the NCHSAA hasn’t released its new official start date to fall sports following Gov. Roy Cooper’s extension of Phase Two on Wednesday. Of the 50 states and Washington, D.C., North Carolina is the only one to not have a new date. A new plan is expected to be announced by Monday.

Of the 49 other states and the nation’s capital, 12 of them have moved football to the spring sports season.

The Richmond Observer will continue to update the progress of Richmond’s athletic programs in the coming weeks.


Last modified on Sunday, 09 August 2020 12:55

Kyle Pillar

Three-time award-winning sports editor. Indiana University of Pennsylvania communications media and journalism alumni. English teacher, Ninth Grade Academy.

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Twitter: ROSports_