Fontbonne Hall’s volleyball team may have lost its semifinal match, but to the Hurricane Sandy-scarred squad — in which 10 out of 11 players were left homeless for weeks — playing was more important than winning.
Despite the hardships they were facing, the Bay Ridge high schoolers said they wanted to play and get back to normal.
“Coming back out and seeing your teammates, playing like we have before, cheering each other up, smiling, laughing, we haven’t done that in awhile,” said junior Casey McDade, whose house burned down when a fire sparked by Hurricane Sandy ripped through Breezy Point. “It’s great to come together again.”
There were tears during the squad’s post game meeting following a 25–15, 25–21, and 25–20 loss to Archbishop Molloy at St. Francis Prep last Thursday night.
Coach Linda Strong, who also lost her home in the Breezy Point fire, told her team how proud she was of them for just being out there.
“We wanted to play for each other,” junior co-captain Kristen Sullivan said.
The Bonnies’ courage wasn’t lost on the team’s opponents either — it only raised Molloy’s admiration for the squad.
“Our hearts go out to them,” said Molloy’s Emily Rabot. “I know it’s really hard. We give them props for coming out here tonight.”
The Bonnies played to bring back some normalcy to player’s lives — but this wasn’t the same squad that lost to Molloy in five sets in all three regular season matches.
Strong said the team just went through the motions and lacked a killer instinct, but she didn’t want to shout at them because she knew what they were going through.
“I didn’t want them to feel bad about their performance,” the coach said. “I don’t think I could have gotten out on the volleyball court and played half as well as they did.”
Even in the darkest moments, players say they are amazed at the generosity that surrounds them. Fontbonne Hall has put together drives for essential household items and gave each of them new school supplies. McDade said teachers and students approach her all the time and ask her what she needs.
“People are coming up to me and giving me money,” she said. “Everyone wants to be such a big help. I feel like I don’t have nothing anymore.”
Strong, who recently found an apartment in Bay Ridge, said she and the players have been living a nomadic existence since the storm, as they bed at different friends’ or family members’ homes.
Junior Daisy Trustumm couldn’t make it to the game because she is living in Connecticut. Also, eight members of the school’s first-place junior varsity team were also affected, adding to an already difficult situation.
“It’s really, really tough on these kids,” Strong said. “They are too young to have to experience this. It’s horrible.”
Many of the players have been back to Breezy Point and what’s left of their homes. Sullivan called it “pure devastation:” in some sections there’s nothing but burnt houses and houses collapsed inside of others.
It didn’t feel like home, but doesn’t mean it won’t be home again in time, McDade explained.
“My family is very determined to rebuild our house where it was,” McDade said. “But it’s gong to take awhile.”
Reach reporter Joseph Staszewski at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on twitter @cng_staszewski.