As unprecedented times persist with the coronavirus pandemic, college conferences have been canceling or delaying the start of fall sports.

The good news for Emily DeGeorge and her Cleveland State volleyball teammates is that season hasn’t been canceled. The bad news is it won’t start at the expected time — end of August.

Last week, the Horizon League announced all fall sports championship and non-championship won’t begin before Oct. 1.

A statement released by the HL reads in part, “The decision allows each campus to further focus on ensuring return to competition protocols uphold the Council’s principle of safety and can be reasonably implemented.”

“Reality kind of set in,” said DeGeorge, a Jefferson graduate. “I was kind of expecting it to get delayed due to the current circumstances, and especially because a few other conferences had canceled or delayed their seasons already. When we heard from the Horizon League that our season was getting pushed back, it became a realistic thing.”

It was a bummer for those involved, but even moreso for DeGeorge, who is entering her senior year. The team heard the announcement while on a Zoom meeting with the coaches.

The Horizon League hasn’t announced yet what will happen during the shortened season.

“We definitely won’t play as many games if we play this fall,” said DeGeorge, a two-time Ashtabula County Player of the Year. “In the spring, there’s potential to have a full season.”

And that would be OK with DeGeorge.

“I’d rather do a spring season,” she said. “It would give us the opportunity to train together more and potentially play more games.”

Instead, DeGeorge will join her teammates for practice at the end of August.

She has been getting ready for the season in Cleveland.

“I’ve been doing a lot of Zoom workouts with a partner,” DeGeorge said. “I haven’t been able to see most of my teammates in a long time though, which has been difficult.”

Despite the news, she is trying to keep a positive attitude.

“We’ve been keeping in touch in a group chat and via Zoom,” DeGeorge said. “We keep working hard to prepare for the season. Coaches are telling us to ‘Hang in there. We’re doing our best to have a season.’ They’ve all reached out, which has been nice. They’re trying to figure out what’s safest for everybody.”

DeGeorge has also been in contact with her her sister, Sarah, also a former county player of the year who is entering her sophomore season at Notre Dame College in South Euclid.

“We talk about it a lot,” DeGeorge said. “I was pretty upset when I found out [the season was delayed]. I know she would be just as sad if hers is to get delayed or cancelled as well.”

DeGeorge has been playing sand volleyball to get her fix.

“It’s definitely helps a little, but it still can’t take the place of a regular college season,” she said.

The goal this season and school year is to make both meaningful. She is scheduled to graduate in May with a bachelors of science in nursing and find a job near the Cleveland area.

Last season, DeGeorge was named to the HL All-Academic team for a second time with the Vikings. DeGeorge carries a 3.95 GPA pursuing a degree in nursing, and has been named to the CSU dean’s list every semester of her collegiate career.

DeGeorge said she will conduct her clinicals onsite, but the rest of her classes will be online.

But before graduation happens, she wants to be on the court for one more season with her teammates and have the chance to compete for championships.

In the 2019 season, DeGeorge tallied 220 total kills, 359 total digs, which was good for second on the team, and 54 total blocks.

She registered six double-doubles.

In the season finale against IUPUI, DeGeorge —a two-time all-conference choice — collected her first 20-20 match with a career high-tying 23 kills and 22 digs.

Earlier in the season, DeGeorge surpassed the 1,000-dig mark for her career, becoming the 20th Viking all-time to reach the milestone. She finished the year with 1,121 career digs and ranks 10th in the CSU career record book in the category.

DeGeorge’s drive for this season is more team-oriented.

“It’s just been crazy,” she said. “I just want to better myself and my team and make the NCAA Tournament.

“It’s been an amazing three years, I’m hopeful to get that fourth season. All my teammates and coaches have been amazing. We’re all praying for the best.”

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