Volleyball enjoys break from scary schedule

By Meghan Montemurro

Halloween and volleyball.

While they may seem like they wouldn’t go together, the Illinois volleyball team believes otherwise.

For an Illini team in the middle of a tough conference schedule while trying to balance the academic side of things, Halloween represents a break and a time to have fun.

The team participates the holiday in style with Halloween festivities at coach Don Hardin’s home. Hardin and his wife, Kim, began the Halloween tradition back in 1997.

“I love Halloween,” Kim Hardin said. “It’s kind of stressful for them right now, and it’s nice to have a team function, and it’s something where they can have fun and laugh.”

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The team gets to escape the stress and pressures, even if only for one night, while handing out candy to neighborhood children.

“It’s been all volleyball since August so it can get overwhelming at times, but it’s a good way to just forget about volleyball for a few hours,” redshirt junior Kayani Turner said.

The Hardin house can clearly be seen as being in the spirit of Halloween with the home being decorated from coffins to fog machines and crazy foods. Some of the foods for the party that are on tap include goulash and hot dogs wrapped like mummies.

Of course, when there is a team environment, competition is a necessity. The team will have a pumpkin carving contest and play the “gooey game” in which the players put their hand into a covered bowl and guess the contents.

Of course, with any Halloween party, the costumes are a high point. Turner’s favorite costumes were those of coaches Kevin and Mary Hambly’s during her sophomore year when they dressed up as Rachel VanMeter and Rasa Virsilaite, former players on the team.

“Often times we dress up as each other, and we’ll amplify (it),” Turner said. “Kevin was Rachel so he had a really, really red wig, and he was sitting with his legs crossed and twirling his hair, so that was really funny.”