Bella Seman has had to endure a great deal in her three years on the Elon University volleyball team.
Bumps. Bruises. Pulled muscles. And three concussions as a defensive specialist/libero for the Phoenix.
Seman is going to have to adapt to and attempt to overcome another setback.
Elon University recently announced it was suspending all of its fall sports programs until the end of the year, leaving Seman's senior volleyball season in limbo.
The hope is the season will be played in the spring.
There's no guarantee.
“Talking to some of the other girls — the ones in my (senior) year are my best friends — we just wanted to know what was going to happen,” Seman said. “We just wanted an answer, so the fact we got an answer really helped us. At least now we know what to expect. But are we going to have a spring season?”
Seman is preparing like there will be one.
She's had all three of her previous seasons shortened by injury, the most serious in 2018 when she was out for 13 matches after suffering a pair of concussions.
That made this campaign even more important for Seman. She was a senior on a team that had big goals.
She wishes she will have a chance to chase them this spring.
“The NCAA hasn't come out and said we're going to have a spring season, but the hope is there,” Seman said. “Our team is being very positive and our coaches are being very positive. The fact that we're not playing in the fall stinks, but we're going to do whatever we can to be ready. This team is probably the most committed Elon volleyball team we've ever had. We have a chance to win our conference this year. If we don't get the opportunity, it will be really sad.”
Seman and her teammates have already put in a lot of work.
They haven't been permitted to practice inside the school's arena, but they have found other ways to hone their skills.
They have set up a make-shift outdoors weight room and have played on the many sand volleyball courts on the North Carolina campus.
Seman also had a chance to practice and glean volleyball knowledge from her older sister, Angela, who recently wrapped up a stellar career of her own at the University of Pittsburgh.
The two sisters were home during the spring after the coronavirus pandemic shut down schools. The two played volleyball every day.
“I'm just blessed that I have her,” Bella Seman said about Angela, who is now an assistant coach and teacher at Fox Chapel High School. “She teaches me so much about the game of volleyball, things I would never think of. The ability to have her there helped keep my mind sharp on volleyball.”
COVID-19 is also affecting Seman's future career goals.
A broadcast journalism major, Seman spent January of this year covering the Iowa caucus for the Elon News Network.
Little did she know that her life would soon be turned upside down.
“It's crazy to think about. In January I was in crowds of thousands of people and I came home, a month later, was quarantined,” Seman said. “All of a sudden it was like, 'Just kidding. You have to go home, not play volleyball and not know what's happening.”
Seman has had to improvise her plans for her final year at Elon, both on and off the volleyball court.
“I thought I had it all figured out, right,” she said. “I'd have my senior season, then in the spring I'd do internships and have my reel ready to go. Nope.”
Seman is now trying to do an internship this fall.
Should the volleyball season not happen in the spring, it's likely collegiate athletes will be given an extra year of eligibility.
Seman, though, doesn't know if she will take advantage of that.
“Here's the thing, I don't have any more school to go to,” she said. “I've had three concussions. It would really depend on a lot of things — if I'm healthy to play still with my concussions; if I have a job offer. I know volleyball won't end for me. I can still coach. I can still be involved.”