New sport, same success: Frontier’s Olivia Deane thriving with cross country team

  • Frontier’s Olivia Deane prepares to serve against Lee during volleyball action last year at Goodnow Gymnasium in South Deerfield. With no volleyball this fall, Deane has taken her talents to the cross country team, and the results have been impressive. STAFF FILE PHOTO/DAN LITTLE

Recorder Intern
Published: 10/19/2020 6:28:09 PM

Frontier fans have watched senior Olivia Deane become a powerhouse for the Red Hawks volleyball squad during her time in South Deerfield. Without the ability to play the sport this fall however, Deane has taken to a new offering. The All-State outside hitter has joined the cross country team, and she’s quickly become a force in her new endeavor.

“When I saw her run, I said ‘She’s the real deal,’” longtime Frontier cross country coach Bob Smith offered. “Olivia doesn’t do anything halfway and she has been incredibly dedicated to training. I’m so impressed how well she has run for the team so far.”

Deane joined the cross country team to fill the time commitment that volleyball originally occupied, and fellow volleyball teammates Charlotte Doulette and Reilly Isler also made the transition. The Sunderland native said that the most important part of being on her new team is interacting with other people.

“In the fall, it’s nice to see people and be social,” she said. “Especially with COVID, I wanted to be a part of a team.”

In volleyball, players run in quick bursts based on where the ball is hit, and adrenaline spikes every two to three minutes throughout the match. For Deane, cross country allowed her to experience a new type of rush that comes with running long distance.

“It’s really nice to finish a race,” Deane explained. “When you finish, you get an endorphin rush and that is something I never experienced before.”

Furthermore, Deane, who plays softball in the spring as well as volleyball, said she enjoyed participating in a sport that was not as technical.

“It’s a whole new level of pushing myself,” she said. “In volleyball and softball, they are very technically-focused sports, and they are difficult for various reasons. Cross country, on the other hand, is just a true test of your cardio.”

Deane has exceeded expectations for the Red Hawks. She placed fourth overall in her very first meet against Mohawk Trail earlier this month. Perhaps even more impressive was the fact that she crossed the line a mere 39 seconds behind the winning runner, something that amazed her coaches.

“She’s made a great transition to the sport,” Smith lauded. “You would almost think that by watching her run and watching her be right up there in our strong girls’ pack that she was a cross country runner all along.”

Though her results have been great, Deane said she never puts pressure on herself to do well with volleyball still her primary sport. She believes this mindset has helped her really enjoy the sport.

“I really had no expectations for myself,” she said with a laugh. “I was gonna try my hardest like I do with volleyball, but I had no idea if I was going to be good at cross country.”

Deane said her biggest cross country road bump has been remembering to stay hydrated all day. She said she has used the sport as a way to increase her endurance for the volleyball season.

“I think my cardio has definitely improved over the past months,” she said. “But just moving my muscles in different ways is actually really beneficial especially for injury prevention because I think when you overtrain in one sport, your muscles get really used to moving in a certain way.”

Though her main focus is to play volleyball in college, Deane has found a new love for cross country, and she said it is something she may continue at the next level.

“It’s in the same season as volleyball so I probably wouldn’t pursue it that far,” she began. “But I would definitely consider running at the club level because I really love running.”

When Frontier and the rest of the Franklin County schools announced they were delaying the volleyball season (along with football, cheer and soccer), Deane was among the student-athletes hit hardest by the news. The 17-year-old was expecting the news, but reality did not set in until it became a formal announcement.

“It was heart-wrenching for me,” she said. “I have been on the varsity volleyball team since eighth grade and it’s just such an important part of my school year.”

Frontier volleyball has been delayed until late February. It joins several other jettisoned sports in a “Fall II” program that will attempt to play games from February until April. Luckily for Deane, the volleyball team has been allowed to have optional practices in the fall in preparation for the “Fall II” season.

That has left Deane juggling practices for both sports. It consumes a lot of her time, but the senior standout said that makes it all the more exciting.

“It’s twice the fun,” she replied. “I look forward to the days that I get to see all different kinds of people. Having more stuff to do actually helps me get things like homework done on time.”

When she finishes practice for cross country, Deane heads to volleyball, where she focuses on passing and defense.

“Even though it is a little thing, having great passing, especially as a team, is essential to winning games,” she said. “In practice, I work more on defensive passing as well as working with new teammates.”

Frontier volleyball coach Sean MacDonald said there are still a lot of unknowns with how the season will look, especially with COVID cases spiking recently in some Western Massachusetts communities.

“You’re going on the fly,” MacDonald said. “Everything is subject to change and subject to the conditions that the state and region are in. There is some nervousness about if the season will happen.”

Though there is concern about the status of the volleyball season, Deane said she keeps a positive attitude, even with the evolving situation.

“I don’t think that it will be delayed any farther than February,” she said. “The measures that are currently in place seem to be very safe and responsible. Staying within the county is also great because we don’t have many cases and wearing masks has made play a lot safer.”

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