The Zimmerman Thunder volleyball team will be playing as scheduled this fall thanks to the Minnesota State High School League. On September 21, the MSHSL reversed its Aug. 4 decision to postpone the state football and volleyball seasons to spring, approving a 14-match, 11-week volleyball season beginning on Thursday, Oct. 8.
Instead of having to wait until spring, the Thunder will play in its first match of the season on Oct. 8 at 7 p.m. against St. Cloud Cathedral at St. Cloud Cathedral High School.
Head coach Leah Driessen said the Zimmerman coaching staff is very grateful for the opportunity to play this fall but knows the limitations of this season because of COVID-19.
“As a coaching staff we are taking COVID-19 very seriously, and ensuring that the health and safety are our first priorities for players and staff,” Driessen said. “We are currently in the process of restructuring our program to become a more competitive program. We will be working hard in practice to become a more competitive and tactful team.”
The Thunder will play their first three matches of the season on the road before competing in their first home match on Oct. 22 against Little Falls at 7 p.m. at Zimmerman High School. Unfortunately for Zimmerman fans, the MSHSL declared that no spectators will be allowed inside volleyball matches this season.
“Parents are also happy for their children to be able to participate in a sport they all love, but they are understandably bummed that they cannot witness it in the fan sections,” Driessen said.
This season, the Thunder will play only Granite Ridge Conference opponents. The teams that also play in the Granite Ridge Conference alongside the Thunder are Albany, Foley, Little Falls, Milaca, Mora, Pierz and St. Cloud Cathedral. Zimmerman will play each time twice: once at home and once on the road. The Thunder will close the 2020 season against Milaca on Nov. 23 at 7 p.m. at Zimmerman High School.
Driessen said the theme for Zimmerman volleyball this season is “Be the Change.” It’s been eight years since the Thunder had a winning season. Zimmerman finished 1-22 in 2019 and their last winning season came in 2012. That year, the Thunder finished 15-5 and made the Section 5-2A final against Maple Lake, losing 3-1 on Nov. 3, 2012 at Rockford High School.
“This applies to so many different things going on, that we felt it was fitting,” she said. “We want to see change in our program, to become more fierce competitors. In addition to that, we ultimately want to promote the players to be activists in their own lives, when they do not like something they see, hear or do, we want them to know that they can be the change to make something wrong stop or be the reason that something is redirected into a more positive direction.”