Joyce Fahnestock, Director for Club Idaho Volleyball hosted their annual Idaho Classic AAU Super Regional in Boise, Idaho on the last weekend in May and the first weekend in June. JVA Executive Director Jenny Hahn was able to reach Joyce after the tournament to talk about how COVID-19 affected the event.

Prior to the call, Jenny assumed that the experience had to have been very stressful and much smaller than years past. She was surprised to find Joyce extremely upbeat and happy. The reason for her happiness was that her focus of having an event for the kids to experience their love of volleyball and be safe for everyone involved was accomplished. Joyce attributed her success to four things: relationships, communication, trust and perseverance.

Joyce’s father, Dr. Don Huber, is a Biowarfare and Infectious Disease expert. He was able to help Joyce and her staff develop a safety plan that met the current standards for controlling the spread of COVID-19. The plan followed the Governor’s orders and she received approval to host the event. Club Idaho utilizes area high school facilities around Boise for the Classic. This was a key piece in putting together the event plan as it would be easier to limit the number of people in each building.

Due to the closing of schools and all school activities, Joyce’s next challenge was to get the schools to open up their gyms and field houses for an indoor volleyball tournament. Once the safety plan was approved, she was able to show the administrators how she would run the event. Due to her long-standing relationships with those schools, they trusted that she would follow through with her plans. After jumping through some hoops regarding permitting and records submission, Joyce got her gyms. She was ready to shift into high gear.

As soon as the shutdown was ordered, Joyce began communicating regularly with the teams registered for the Classic. During the planning process, she shared her plans to keep the attending teams, the officials, and the parents safe. Scheduling and formatting issues due to court restrictions and spacing needs were shared with coaches. Waivers were sent out and collected well in advance of the event. Joyce and her event team were excited to learn that the majority of teams were so grateful and so happy that she was moving forward with the tournament. The tournament had 75 teams in 2019 and 72 teams in 2020. Over half of the teams stayed in hotels and ate in restaurants that were open. Two teams flew in for the tournament.

They had a lot of work to do to prepare for the tournament, but they were dedicated to making it happen. Here are the protocols that were enforced during the tournament.

Limiting Numbers
Teams had to wait outside in a designated area prior to the event and while they weren’t competing or working a match. Joyce described the atmosphere as festive with tents or canopies that teams brought with them or were provided for them. Team areas were adorned with signs and team logos. To mark their territory. All bags, backpacks and personal items had to stay in that designated area with the team. It was recommended that a chaperone from each team stayed at all times to provide security for their team’s personal items since there was no security outside to monitor the belongings.

The tournament pro shop was set up in the parking lot to sell T-shirts, as well as take on-line orders. Joyce used monitors to manage the flow of participants in and out of the gyms. The work team was escorted in first, then each team separately, then the designated parents for each team. No one could enter without a monitor and very large, laminated pass showing they were allowed into the gym. If passes were lost, they were not replaced.

No spectators were allowed in the venues. Teams consisted of one head coach, two assistants, 12 players. Three chaperones per team that were playing in the match were allowed in. One or more of the parents live-streamed the match to the parents and fans in the parking lot and back home. Maps were provided to control traffic flow in and out of the facilities.

Maintaining Cleanliness and Sanitation
Special deep cleaning spray and electrostatic spray was used at the schools for the bleachers and chairs, and tables. Bathrooms were cleaned and sprayed each evening and only allowed a few people were allowed in at a time to keep distancing and the flow of people down.  Courts were cleaned daily with special spray and cleaner.  Seating areas were sanitized with a special cleaning solution between every match. Hand sanitizer dispensers were plentiful.

No outside chairs were allowed in the venues.  A few chairs were provided for the team chaperones that watched. Cooler food and drinks other than water were not allowed in the venues, and had to stay in the teams area outside. The teams’ area must be cleaned and checked by the Tournament Site Director before they left on the final day. Only the gyms and bathrooms were used during the tournament. All other areas of the schools were off limits.  If a player or chaperone needed to use the bathroom while they were outside they needed to go in and back out of the venue.

The only balls to be used for matches were provided by Club Idaho. Balls were sanitized between matches. Tteams brought their own warm-up balls and cleaned them once they arrived into the gym with the cleaner provided by Club Idaho.

Officials and Match Protocol
The officials used whistles but cleaned them frequently. There was one official per court and each team provided the R2 which had to be a coach. Four players only from the reffing team were allowed in to help officiate: Scorekeeper, libero tracker/flipper, and two line judges. There were no handshakes, high fives, or hand slapping by anyone. Teams cheered and waved at the end of the match for the other team.

A waiver had to be signed by any teams participating at one of the tournament venues. The waiver was emailed to the teams assigned to that venue. Anyone not feeling well was not permitted to attend the tournament.

Coach Meeting and Responsibilities
All coaches meetings took place outside the venues and coaches signed the official roster at that time. All rosters were printed and in the officials book. No changes to rosters were allowed at the door. Coaches were responsible for making sure players, coaches and parents follow the tournament guidelines and protocol. Coaches need to have a list of the parents that planned on being at the tournament.

Joyce and her team agreed that experiencing the joy that the athletes, coaches and their families experienced in coming together and competing was well worth the time that was spent in the planning and execution of the Idaho Classic AAU Super Regional.

Club Idaho Volleyball (Boise, ID) is a member of the Junior Volleyball Association, an organization dedicated to improving the junior volleyball experience for all clubs, coaches and athletes.