Senior Day carries a little more weight these days. The pandemic has altered or, in some cases, squashed the final prep seasons for many 2020-21 student athletes.
But Sacred Heart Cathedral girls volleyball coach Margi Beima wasn’t going to let the virus slam the door on her seniors. Not without a celebration. Not without cookies, flowers and awards. And definitely not without bagpipes.
On St. Patrick’s Day, the Irish and visiting Riordan marched onto the outdoor grass facility on campus, led and serenaded by junior setter and bagpiper Maura Baglin — yes, a bagpiper named Baglin — determined to make the most out of the least.
With no Season 1 indoor sports OKd by the California Department of Public Health guidelines, Sacred Heart Cathedral and Riordan finished up a miniscule two-week, three-match outdoor campaign jumping, serving, competing and mostly just celebrating. The fresh air. The exercise. Each other.
The Irish, a perennial Northern California power, easily prevailed over the Crusaders, who are in their inaugural season. But no one was really counting.
“It was just a feel-good event,” Beima said. “The bagpipes got us going. There were cookies for every player. We had a girl (Katrina Fazio) who broke her arm able to serve a point underhanded. We had cousins (SHC’s Bridget Hickey and Riordan’s Grace Fitzgerald) playing against one another. It was just kids having a great time, a friendly community match all against COVID and all that it’s taken away.”
Beima wanted to make sure her seniors — Fazio, Hickey, Amaya Keiper and Alyssa Taylor — as well as Riordan’s lone 12th-grader, Jada Harris, were honored.
Taylor, who suffered a torn ACL injury in 2019, was presented with the Kelly Gallagher Memorial Spirit Award.
When the season appeared doomed in January, Beima reached out to her seniors to free them of obligation. Monotonous pod training was about all she could offer.
“They could have easily said, ‘I’m over it ... I’m done,’ and I would have totally understood,” Beima said. “Instead they all stayed and set examples for the younger girls, showing what Irish volleyball is all about.”
Since Beima took over in 2004, the Irish have won nearly 500 matches, three league, eight section, five Northern California and a state championship.
Beima was also involved in the creation of the Serve It Up tournament, an annual one-day event started a decade ago combining volleyball and community service.
Postponed for the first time in the fall due to the pandemic, Beima teamed with Riordan coach Liz Watters and St. Ignatius’ Jennifer Curtin to hold the event March 6.
The players arranged care packages for 90 veterans, wrote letters to the elderly, decorated frames for foster parents and made heart-shaped pillows for breast cancer survivors. Then they played four hours of outdoor volleyball.
“There was so much joy that day,” Beima said. “So many smiles all the way around. Tons of pictures. I’m so proud of my colleagues and all the players. They put aside their disappointment of the season and made the very most of it.”
MaxPreps senior writer Mitch Stephens covers high school sports for The San Francisco Chronicle.