#FocusDisruption: How the Volleyball Crew Rally Round Kelly Monaghan Amid Tragedy

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#FocusDisruption is a collaboration of all media shops at Montclair State’s College of Communication and Media. Our aim is to report tales that spotlight the impression or disruption of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. We’ll concentrate on 5 details that the post-pandemic world is experiencing change: training, misinformation, the office, local weather change and psychological well being.

Eight days earlier than Montclair State College’s house volleyball opener in opposition to Stockton College, Kelly Monaghan sits along with her household within the hospital, saying goodbye to the person she’s thought of her greatest pal for 21 years: her father.

John Monaghan, who had efficiently overcame most cancers just a few years again, was recognized with coronavirus (COVID-19) in January 2021 alongside along with his mom and brother. All three had been extraordinarily sick, however Caitlin’s mom and brother ultimately got here out on prime of the virus. His father misplaced his battle.

“All the things went downhill in a short time, so I used to be nonetheless in a state of shock,” Monaghan mentioned. “I used to be emotionally in all places; I could not imagine this was occurring. I used to be attempting to suppose it was a nightmare as an alternative of actual life.”

For anybody, the lack of a mother or father is undoubtedly devastating. However for Monaghan, her relationship along with her father molded her into the lady she is right now and was the spine of her love of volleyball.

“The largest factor he taught me was that no matter you do, do it 100%,” Monaghan mentioned. “No matter I do, I by no means give half my effort to him. He at all times instructed me to do no matter good you possibly can.”

Monaghan credit her late father for instilling her love for the game.
Picture courtesy of Caitlin Monaghan

Mourning the lack of his father, Monaghan, who was then a junior, missed three video games within the early a part of the spring 2021 season. The New Jersey Athletic Convention (NJAC) pushed the volleyball season from fall 2020 to spring 2021 because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

He mentioned the help Monaghan obtained was great. Within the early days and weeks after his father’s demise, members of the prolonged household got here to his house to examine on Monaghan, his mom, and his brother. Family and friends confirmed their help for the volleyball participant on social media with tributes and heartwarming textual content messages, posts and extra.

Monaghan mentioned she did not need to take an enormous hiatus from the game, as she believed her father needed her to proceed enjoying. A go to by her friends and greatest mates, Carly Waterman and Delaney St. Pierre, confirmed her sentence.

Whereas the journey was crammed with numerous hugs, tears and silence, Waterman and St. Pierre gave a particular reward to their fellow volleyball captain.

“They gave me a card on my sneakers with orange, inexperienced and white ribbons with footage of the women on the workforce in honor of my dad, who was very Irish,” Monaghan mentioned. “He additionally gave me his shoe with the ribbon that included [my father’s] initials on it.”

The shoes Kelly Monaghan wore to honor her father.  Photo courtesy of Caitlin Monaghan

The footwear Kelly Monaghan wore to honor her father.
Picture courtesy of Caitlin Monaghan

Like the remainder of the workforce, Waterman did not need to see Monaghan alone grappling with the lack of his father. Sadly, with COVID-19 instances being so excessive on the time, the workforce was unable to attend the funeral to point out their help for the Monaghan household.

To compensate for this, the workforce determined to maintain John Monaghan’s spirit alive on the courtroom. For each recreation that season, your complete workforce wore ribbons on their sneakers. They even introduced Monaghan’s sporting sneakers to the video games she missed.

“She was overjoyed and in tears after we confirmed her the image of the ribbon,” Waterman mentioned. “She known as her mother instantly to see it. It was virtually like she was in shock as a result of she did not anticipate it. We simply needed her to know that the entire workforce had returned her, not us on the funeral.” may go as a result of we had been in season and [COVID-19] rising up, so it was very tough for her to not have that many individuals round her. We did every part potential to make him really feel like he was with us.”

The women's volleyball team wore ribbons on their sneakers throughout the spring 2021 season.  Photo courtesy of Caitlin Monaghan

The ladies’s volleyball workforce wore ribbons on their sneakers all through the spring 2021 season.
Picture courtesy of Caitlin Monaghan

After lacking just a few video games, he returned in opposition to Rutgers-Camden on March 11, racking up 13 digs in an exciting five-set victory. It was 9 days after the funeral.

“When Carly confirmed me these images, that was the second I noticed I needed to come back again and be with my workforce and play with them,” Monaghan mentioned.

Waterman and Monaghan consider each other best friends on and off the court.  Photo courtesy of Caitlin Monaghan

Carly Waterman (proper) and Caitlin Monaghan (left) take into account one another greatest mates on and off the courtroom.
Picture courtesy of Caitlin Monaghan

Monaghan performed an enormous half within the Crimson Hawks’ robust protection that season, however it was not sufficient to win the NJAC title because the Crimson Hawks misplaced to Stockton in three units within the convention championship recreation on March 25.

This offered him with extra motivation in his senior season, whereas shedding to the Stockton Stung. This senior class has gone by many challenges – heartbreaking playoff defeats, a world pandemic and the lack of family members. Monaghan needed to finish her profession not just for her father but in addition for her teammates and coaches who confirmed such nice help for her throughout such a turbulent time in her life.

Previous to his senior yr, Monaghan was not thought of one of many Crimson Hawks’ key gamers. Nonetheless, head coach Eddie Stavinsky noticed potential in him based mostly on his constant enchancment over the previous few seasons. He was named captain of the workforce this season together with fellow senior watermen, St. Pierre and Leah Higgins.

Monaghan was made captain during his senior season.  Photo courtesy of David Venezia

Monaghan was made captain throughout his senior season.
Picture courtesy of David Venezia

This new management position additionally got here with a place swap – Stavinsky gave him a free position on the workforce, usually given to the workforce’s greatest defensive participant. It was a job she’d dreamed of since she was an underclassman, and after years of fluctuating enjoying time, the autumn of 2021 season was lastly a breakout season for her.

Stavinsky admired the management and perspective of the senior captain throughout such a tough time in his life.

“I believe one factor [sports] What’s mistaken is that athletes do one thing like this, however it’s not,” Stavinsky mentioned. “I believe it says quite a bit about him that he continued to play volleyball even when confronted with it. There have been ups and downs. However I believe she understood that it was okay to have dangerous days, to be unhappy or that I’d keep in mind her somewhat extra right now. ,

Throughout his senior season, Stavinsky observed a change in Monaghan on the courtroom.

“I observed she was extra calm on the courtroom and she or he was happier on the courtroom and you may see it in her play,” Stavinsky mentioned. “She wasn’t seeing errors, errors, any of that. She was simply enjoying to have enjoyable. And it was one thing that once I look again at every part that occurred to her over the previous yr, it actually noteworthy in.,

Along with his renewed concentrate on the courtroom, Monaghan has had his greatest season to this point this fall. She was named because the NJAC Co-Defensive Participant of the Yr and First-team All-NJAC choice because of her spectacular efficiency on the defensive finish as a complete of 463 digs, averaging 4.5 per recreation. Each awards had been the primary for a Senior Libero/Defensive Specialist.

Monaghan was named the NJAC Co-Defensive Player of the Year in the Fall 2021 season.

Monaghan was named the NJAC Co-Defensive Participant of the Yr within the Fall 2021 season.
Picture courtesy of David Venezia

“I used to be very stunned to see that I gained this award, as a result of it was my first full season with out my father and he performed such an enormous half in my volleyball profession,” Monaghan mentioned. “Nonetheless, I do know he actually was with me this season” [in spirit], I may solely think about his response if he was right here and I instructed him. ,

As a tribute to his father, Monaghan wore an armband with the phrases “Dad” on one hand after which his initials on the opposite throughout his recreation this season.

Whereas her father was not the largest fan of Monaghan’s volleyball video games, he was at all times essentially the most supportive. Present each recreation he can to encourage your daughter by adversity, you title it. Not seeing him there and enjoying with out him within the crowd was a big adjustment.

Monaghan mentioned, “It was undoubtedly upsetting that my dad had solely missed one recreation at first, when he had some ongoing well being points.” “I keep in mind the primary house recreation saying, ‘That is my mother proper now.’ However all through the season my aunts and cousins ​​got here with my grandmother. And on senior night time, I had loads of household on my mother’s facet, my dad’s facet. So I acquired loads of help.”

Sadly, Monaghan’s dream season did not have the joyful ending one would anticipate. in a crushing defeat, The Crimson Hawks misplaced to Rowan College in 5 units Within the NJAC Championship Sport on late recreation heroism by a professional. Given the quite a few newcomer accidents, together with a season-ending harm to Waterman late within the common season, many didn’t even anticipate the Crimson Hawks to achieve this far.

Nonetheless, Monaghan continues to be happy with the way in which he performed for himself and his father, and the way in which the workforce fought within the face of adversity.

“Whereas I needed to finish this season for my dad, these ladies on the workforce are my greatest mates and I needed to win the championship for them,” Monaghan mentioned. “It was unhappy after we misplaced to Rowan, however I believe all of us knew how a lot now we have achieved this yr” [and] All of the accidents we had, we nonetheless by no means took our eyes off what we needed to realize. I am happy with how far we have come.”

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