Isgrig, Peschong react to Bobcats’ season-ending COVID test result

T-R FILE PHOTO - Marshalltown High School head volleyball coach Kaylee Peschong, right, and athletic trainer Nathain Swaim, left, talk with junior Sophie Younkin (5) during an injury timeout in the Bobcats’ Sept. 8 match against Waukee at the Roundhouse.

The moment Marshalltown Activities Director Ryan Isgrig found out Sunday evening that a member of the Marshalltown volleyball team had tested positive for COVID-19, he knew he was in for a difficult night.

Isgrig said he got word and set off a conversation with school nurse Stacey Tool-Crawford, head coach Kaylee Peschong and school district administrators about how to move forward with the season, and if it was possible without endangering the safety of the Bobcat team and its next opponent, Ankeny.

“We took the necessary steps to see what to do next,” Isgrig said. “We’re still waiting and monitoring, so we don’t know how many yet, but it was enough to really be concerned about the health and safety of them. I’ve been really impressed with how our girls have handled it.”

The Bobcats would have faced the second-ranked Hawks on Thursday night in Ankeny in the first round of Class 5A regional play. But Peschong said there wasn’t much discussion in her mind that the game needed to be canceled in order to protect the players.

Peschong was in the midst of her first season, as well as having very recently given birth to her second child. She has been all over the place, but her thoughts went immediately to protecting her team.

“My initial reaction was to do what’s best for the safety of our athletes, coaches, and their families as well as the Marshalltown community,” Peschong said. “I am sad for our seniors as this ends their career. It’s never an easy decision to end a season early, but in this instance, it was necessary. We are very thankful to play a majority of our season. It’s unfortunate that this happened in our last week, however, we do remain grateful for our time together! This is a special group.”

The cancellation stopped a 12-11 team in its tracks, a winning record for the first time since 2018, as the Bobcats have gone back and forth between winning and losing seasons for nearly a decade.

Peschong saw a lot to take solace in during her maiden season at the helm.

“There is always so much more to a season than a team’s record,” Peschong said. “I am proud of the progress we have made and I look forward to build on the success of this season. Bobcat Volleyball has big goals for next year.”

This is the first sport that has been subject to a COVID-19 stoppage because of positive player tests, Isgrig said. There have been various times in the summer and fall seasons where positive COVID tests from other teams have canceled and postponed games.

An example is the Des Moines Public Schools’ decision to stay online-only through October, which in turn forced Des Moines East to cancel the football game Marshalltown set for Homecoming weekend. That game instead went to Fort Dodge, who also had a COVID-related opening in its schedule.

Schools around the area, such as East Marshall softball and North Tama baseball and softball in the summer, have had issues as well.

But Isgrig said Marshalltown can use this as something to help prepare them for the winter seasons.

“Hopefully we’ll learn from this and continue to take the steps necessary to have a safe and successful season this winter,” Isgrig said.


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