Jeff Vorva's Extra Point -- Florida volleyball team escapes serious wrath of Hurricane Irma

  • Written by Jeff Vorva


 Photo by Jeff Vorva

Volleyball players from Berkeley Prep, here celebrating a Silver Division quarterfinal victory at the ASICS Tournament at Mother McAuley on Oct. 1, feel lucky that Hurricane Irma didn’t do much damage to them. 


Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, Jose and Maria didn’t have an agenda.

They didn’t pick and choose who they were going to destroy and kill. They didn’t have a say in who was going to be lucky and who was going to be spared.

All they did was blow through Texas and Florida in the United States and messed up some other countries as well.

And they let the chips fall where they may.

Coaches and players of the Berkeley Prep volleyball team from Tampa, Fla., had their world turned upside down for a brief time in mid-September. They were bracing for a monster storm and feared for their lives and property on Sept. 10 when the storm was scheduled to hit.

Instead of a monster crushing them, they received the equivalent of a bully kicking them in the shins.

Sure it hurt.

But look at the TV.

Look what happened in Miami.

Look what happened in Houston.

Look what happened in Puerto Rico.

The team spent a weekend in the area and won the Silver Division championship of the ASICS Challenge at Mother McAuley on Sept.30-Oct. 1. For the coaches and players on this team, life has returned to normal.

“I feel so lucky,” Berkeley senior Anders Douglas said. “Compared to everyone else, I feel so fortunate. I have a friend in Puerto Rico and he was telling me how awful it is over there. His dad has an office building with a generator and he’s been living in the office all this time.’’

First-year coach Mackenzie Dagostino, who has come to the ASICS Challenge at McAuley  as a player, took over the program for her dad, Randy, who won 849 matches and 15 state championships. It’s likely her father had some crazy weeks in his time, but even Pop might not have gone through the strange type if week after Irma hit.

The school had a few busted shingles, but because of the damage throughout the area, there was no school for most of the following week. That meant there was no practice. And the team was hosting a tournament with national teams including Walton High of Georgia, which, at the time was ranked No. 1 in the nation by MaxPreps. The team was able to get one practice in before the tourney and eventually finished second, losing to Walton 25-16, 25-18.

Dagostino didn’t have power in her house for six days.

 “The first couple of days aren’t that bad – you have ice and you have food on ice and plenty of water,” she said. “But the longer people went without power, the more they panicked. You definitely saw that in the area. People were actually chasing after ice trucks.

“At the end of the day, we all made it through without power. There are ways to get around it. There were a lot of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches consisting of our meals.’’

Players were encouraged to stay as fit as they could during the dramatic week.

“We still had to stay active, even in the house,” Douglas said. “I had to make sure I was still in shape when we came back. We were supposed to be off for two days but the closer the hurricane got, the track was supposed to come right over our campus, so it ended up being five days.

“I was able to run outside before the rain came. Once we had to stay inside, I did a lot of squats and jumps.’’

Tampa did get plenty of damage but it woulda-coulda-shoulda been worse.

The town is living a relatively charmed life. It has not suffered a direct hit from a hurricane that is Cartgory 3 or higher since 1921.

Hurricanes may not have an agenda, but they don’t seem to want to mess around with Tampa too much.