Bump, set, spike: Gator’s Pub league is back in business

Bump, set, spike: Gator’s Pub league is back in business

Members of the Anything From The Volley team, which captured the Sunday night Co-ed ‘B’ championship last summer, check out the competition as they get ready for their match on Sunday night at the Gator’s Pub courts. The popular adult volleyball league kicked off its 30th season last week, with 73 teams in 10 divisions taking the courts. (Breeze photos by Eric Benevides)
Seventy-three adult volleyball teams finally begin seasons on popular N.S. sand courts

NORTH SMITHFIELD – After the opening week of the Gator’s Pub Summer Volleyball League’s season was in the books, the league’s directors, Deb and Jim McGee, took a quick peek at some of the emails they received from some of the players in the league.

“And everything was excellent,” said Deb. “A majority of the comments were, ‘We are so happy that we’re back out playing again.’ Everything Jim and I heard was positive, and hopefully it just continues that way for the rest of the season.”

Seventy-three teams in 10 divisions stepped into the sand to begin their respective seasons last week, and they did so by closely following social distancing rules, as well as the page-long guidelines and requirements that the McGees emailed each team in the weeks leading to the season.

“I had people say that they felt better with some of the provisions that we put out,” Deb said. “I think because it was all out there, how we were going to do things, it gave some people a little bit more comfort. It wasn’t just, ‘OK, everybody just jump on the courts and do what you want.’”

On Sunday, with 19 teams taking center stage in their hour-long matches, it sure felt like the good ol’ days on what was a beautiful night for volleyball. The parking lots were full again, the pub was hard at work serving its customers, the action was close for most of the matches, and most of all, the fun was back.

“It feels good to have something to do every week now, something to sort of look forward to,” said North Smithfield resident David Thibault, who plays for the Block Party team in the Co-ed ‘B’ division. “It just brings a little normalcy back – you have something to do, you get exercise, you play a game that you like to play, and you hang out with your friends here. You can just sort of escape for an hour.”

Thibault, who is originally from Maine and is in his third season in the league, shared the same fears that everyone in the league had back in March when the COVID-19 pandemic shut down sports on all levels. Was there going to be a volleyball season this summer on the North Smithfield courts?

“I think everyone was worried that the whole summer, in general, was just going to be totally different from what a normal summer would be,” Thibault added. “Not being able to play some volleyball and have some beers with your friends was just a weird thing to wrap your head around, but now we’re back playing volleyball again.”

One thing that was tough to wrap your head around was the sight of a giant 10-foot net that separated the two courts. That was one of the provisions that the league made to keep its players safe.

“Everyone loved that new net,” Deb said. “It was funny because when we put it up, Jim, (Gator’s Pub owner) Tommy (McGee), and I all said, ‘Why didn’t we think of doing this before?’ It just made additional sense because it prevents the ball on one court from rolling onto the other side.”

Deb said that she was hoping to begin the season with anywhere from 77-80 teams, “but we had four that dropped out,” she added. “We did have some that said, ‘We’re just not comfortable (playing) this year, but hopefully we’ll be back next year,’ which is totally understandable.”

“Seventy-three is still a really good number,” she added. ‘We’d like to have our 88 and a full league, but this is definitely an off-year for us with everything going on, which is totally fine and acceptable.”

As for the league’s traditional postseason barbeque, which is scheduled for Sept. 20, “we would love to have it, but I don’t know,” Deb answered. “I guess it all depends on what the governor says. It’s something that we can wait until maybe the end of August (to announce), as long as we have a few weeks for the pub to get everything ready. It’s not looking good, but fingers crossed.”

Here’s a look at the standings from the opening week:

Sunday’s Co-ed ‘B’ – Anything from the Volley 3, Beach Bums 3, Game On 3, Kiss My Ace 3, Wild Ones 2, I’d Hit That 1, Block Party 0, Fat Unicorns 0, Hit for Brains 0, Hold My Corona 0.

Sunday’s Division II – Tipsy Bitsy Spikers 3, Whack-A-Mole 3, Beaches & Bros 2, Serves You Right 2, All 4 Fun 1, Setting Ducks 1, Honey Badgers 0, Serves Up 0, Thundercats 0.

Monday’s Any 4’s – A Case of the Monday’s 3, The 4 Of Us 3, Out of Bounds 2, Super Smash Bros 2, Beach Bums 1, Gator’s Pub 1, All Heights Matter 0, RIMA 0.

Monday’s Co-ed ‘B’ – Misfits 3, Next Gen 3, Nothin’ Drops 3, Setting Ducks 0, Special Delivery 0, Things That Go Bump In The Night 0.

Tuesday’s Any 4’s – Served On Ice 3, Nestor Physical Therapy 2, P.D. 2, Ravenous Brewing Company 2, Affordable Dreams Home Improvement 1, Give & Take 1, Glad To Be Back 1, Sandwedges 0.

Tuesday’s Co-ed ‘A’ – Scooby Snacks 3, Balls to the Wall 2, Spritzer’s 2, Alus 1, Gator’s Pub 1, Village Haven 0.

Wednesday’s Co-ed ‘B’ – Balls to the Wall 3, Beach Bums 3, Nice Hits, Better Aces 3, Sonova 2, Court Jesters 1, EZ Pass 1, Blocka! Blocka ! 0, B. Uglies 0, Will Work for Sets 0.

Wednesday’s Men’s ‘B’ – B. Deep 3, Mullaly Construction 2, Mud, Sweat & Beer 1, Cobra Commanders 0.

Thursday’s Co-ed ‘B’ – Paige Plumbing 3, Sandstorm 3, Dinks & Drinks 2, The Brady Bunch 2, Empire Spikes Back 1, JAC Fitness 1, Cool As Ice 0, Cool Air Creations 0.

Thursday’s Division II – Rough Sets 3, Serve-ivors 2, Road House Farm 1, 7 & 7 0, Spiked Punch 0.

David Thibault of North Smithfield dives in the sand to dig out a spike during Block Party’s Co-ed ‘B’ match against Kiss My Ace.