The eighth ranked Grand Rapids Community College volleyball team is scheduled to return to West Michigan from Hawaii late tonight.
The team has been in Hawaii on a preseason trip playing Hawaiian colleges since Aug. 16. With Hurricane Lane, a Category 4 cyclone, expected to make landfall late Thursday, early Friday, the GRCC volleyball team will be cutting it close with their flight off the island tonight. GRCC released a statement regarding the team’s return home.
“The safety of our students is a top priority, and we have been closely monitoring the situation with Hurricane Lane in Hawaii. We are committed to keeping GRCC volleyball families informed about developments as we work to bring the team home safely. College leaders spoke to athletes’ family members on Wednesday. The college is in regular communication with coaches and the agency coordinating the team’s travel. At this time, the team is still scheduled to depart on Thursday evening.
“Expenses for the trip were covered by team fundraising events. The nationally ranked program raises money through hosting tournaments, and has been saving several years to cover expenses to play teams in Hawaii.”
GRCC President Bill Pink addressed the situation on Thursday during his speech at the Fall Opening Day Celebration for full-time faculty at St. Cecilia Music Center.
“Many of you may be aware right now of the storm that is heading for Hawaii,” Pink said. “Over the course of the last several years, our women’s volleyball team has done fundraising activities to raise enough money that they would one day be able to take a team…to Hawaii to play games over there before the school year got started. This happened to be the year that they’ve done that. They are right now on the big island. We have been in contact with their family and their parents working to monitor the situation…I need you guys to not only keep that in your prayers and your thoughts, but also, we will keep you updated as we find out more information about that. It is obviously of concern to us to make sure that our family members get back safely.”
GRCC Athletic Director Bill Firn, whom Pink thanked during his speech for the work he has been doing during this situation, has been in continuous contact with the coaches.
“We’re in constant communication with (the coaches),” Firn said. “We’re just double checking, triple checking to make sure what’s the safest option to get them home. Currently, nothing has been cancelled or delayed out of the airport that they’re flying out of.”
Firn and his team are currently working on scenarios if the team’s flight were to get grounded but doesn’t have an estimate of how long team would be stranded in Hawaii. The team’s flight is scheduled to take off at 8 p.m. Hawaiian time, 2 a.m. local time.