Playing a sport requires commitment and resiliency. But even for the most focused individuals and teams, the COVID-19 pandemic presented unimaginable obstacles. Perhaps that is what made Bethel’s Women’s Volleyball Team win at the NCCAA National Championship such an accomplishment.

“It takes a lot to win a championship. It takes such focus and hard work and this team did that so well in the midst of a global pandemic,” says Head Coach Katie Weiss ’01. “I am so proud of them and I am so grateful to God and how he protected us and kept us safe.”

One of the greatest challenges was maintaining a healthy mindset and attitude. The team was aware of the need for contact tracing, testing and all the other complications of COVID-19.

“[This championship] has been years in the making – creating a championship mindset within our team. A healthy team culture takes time to build and I think we are finally starting to reap the benefits of years of work,” Weiss said.
She saw this as a well-deserved win for the entire team, especially the seniors.

Payton Hart, senior and a starter, said, “Winning NCCAA Nationals as a senior was one of the best experiences I had at Bethel! I feel so honored to be a part of Bethel volleyball, and I am so thankful God has blessed me with amazing friends and teammates to share the memories with.”

But, the season is not over. The team is headed to the NAIA Division I Tournament in late April. The only other time the team made it there was in 1998 when Coach Weiss was a Bethel player. While this puts more stress on the players and coaches mentally and physically, they are thankful for the ability to play more volleyball.

Freshman Maddy Payne described the entire situation, in the midst of a pandemic, as humbling.
“The girls we have are amazing! They’re all so genuine and fun …. I am so proud to play beside them, win or lose,” Payne said.