Ally Carr and partner Victoria Corcoran were playing their best
beach volleyball before COVID-19 suddenly ended the season
Monday, May 4th, 2020
By Rob J. Ross
ST. THOMAS - Ally Carr was preparing for another weekend of beach volleyball before her promising season unexpectedly was cut short.
A casualty of the COVID-19 pandemic, all NCAA sports seasons were cancelled in mid March, leaving players and coaches disappointed and initially confused.
Carr and partner Victoria Corcoran were the number two team for the University of New Orleans, with a solid 8-3 match record over five tournaments, for the NCAA Division One Southland Conference's women's beach volleyball schedule.
"It was really devastating to have our season cut short. It was so heart-breaking. It's still hard to believe that it's actually over," said Carr, recalling the day New Orleans head coach Millcent Van Norden told the team they were having their final practice.
"Our team was mostly frustrated and angry, but confused most of all why our season was being cancelled because of a flu," said Carr, as the team similar to the majority throughout North America at the time didn't know the severity of COVID-19. "After some time passed, our team had a meeting with our athletic director, Duncan, and he told us what the situation was. In a matter of days we went from having regular classes to games being suspended and us having to immediately evacuate."
Carr returned to her home in Shedden for 14 days in self isolation and learning to navigate her Pre-Med classes online.
"It is tough because there is a lot of information that I find easier hearing from the teacher," Carr said. "It's very different watching videos instead of being in a lab."
Classes will end mid May, but Carr wonders what might have been for her volleyball season. A year ago, New Orleans' beach volleyball program had their first ever winning record.
"We had a really strong start to this season," Carr said. "We had goals to go well beyond that, including winning the conference championship."
Carr started the 2019 season with a different partner until changes brought her and Corcoran together.
"The coaches thought our styles of play were similar. Victoria and I just have the same energy and we communicate on every play. We have this silent communication that we're good with," Carr explains. "We have that chemistry. I love playing with her. We always give 100 per cent for each other. We never let a ball drop."
Carr, a standout indoor player while attending high school at Parkside Collegiate, club with Forest City in London and beach with the Zephyr Beach Club out of Port Stanley, is proud of her growth as a player during her time at New Orleans.
"I've become more advanced as a player," Carr says. "I've definitely face a lot more tough competition. I've been exposed to many different techniques and players which I can learn from how to defend and incorporate into my skill set."
Defence is how Carr got her nick name for a reptile common throughout Louisiana.
"Ally has made big strides since beginning her career at New Orleans," coach Van Norden. "The team affectionately calls her "Gator" for Alligator because she has been just that. Her defensive speed and relentless mindset is by far the best on the team. She goes for EVERY ball, no matter if she will actually make contact or not."
Carr went from the Pioneers' sixth seed not even in the line-up to exhibition games as the fifth seed during her freshman year. In year two to top five counting towards team points.
"This year I started the season as the second seed with Victoria. This year was my first time flying with the team to Miami. It felt like a mini vacation, but we're all going with the mind set ready to compete. Miami was the coolest experience."
Carr's determination to improve her game and enthusiasm during practice and games has impressed her coach.
"She's so engaged with coach and teammate feedback (and) she's a joy to coach, Van Norden adds. "Each year we have challenged her to improve her offense (strength and multitude of shots) and to improve the quality of her defensive contact (more under control). I love watching Ally and Victoria play together. They are an exciting pair to watch. They make unbelievable plays together and their energy is unmatched."
No doubt next season, Carr and Corcoran want to pick up where they left off at the time of the unscheduled stoppage of play this year.
"I always want to keep improving and growing as a player," said Carr, and that includes continuing her goal of working towards a conference championship.
Carr and her New Orleans teammates are involved in numerous events in New Orleans, leading the team to lead the NCAA Division I in the Teamworks Helper Helper competition this season with over 530 hours of community service. From the Boys and Girls Club and Purple Stride Louisiana (walk to end pancreatic cancer), to the Fried Chicken Festival, the Pioneers are heavily involved in their community.
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