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Basketball teammates give Chatsworth boys’ volleyball team a lift



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Each second on the volleyball court docket, 6-foot-7 senior Jamaal Unuakhalu savors it like smelling the inside of a brand new automotive. You sense his pleasure as he leaps above the web to finish a kill. You hear his willpower as he roars following a block. You see his optimism smiling on the bench subsequent to a teammate.

Each sport and each observe is treasured to Unuakhalu as a result of he missed the whole 2020-21 highschool sports activities season underneath orders from his dad and mom to not play due to COVID-19 considerations.

That was the varsity yr Chatsworth gained Metropolis titles in basketball and volleyball, the 2 sports activities Unuakhalu performs. He by no means noticed the groups play.

He mentioned his mom determined it was too harmful to play sports activities with COVID-19 charges of an infection too excessive. He took on-line courses. He hardly ever left his home aside from to remain in form by understanding on his personal at a park in case he obtained permission to return. It by no means occurred, however he started lobbying to be allowed again for his senior season.

“I began saying it’s going to be my final yr and what I missed out on,” he mentioned. “I didn’t need to do it once more.”

By the beginning of faculty in August, it was determined he may play. However then got here phrase that to play, he wanted to be vaccinated. It wasn’t till November that closing permission was given to obtain his photographs.

”I mentioned thanks a number of occasions,” he mentioned.

Unuakhalu earned All-Metropolis honors in basketball, teaming with one other All-Metropolis participant, Tim Lopez. They averaged 18.7 factors and 17.8 factors, respectively. Unuakhalu was a membership volleyball participant and satisfied Lopez to strive the game. Now the 2 are on the No. 1 volleyball group within the Metropolis Part and the favourite to win the Open Division championship.

Volleyball coach Sina Aghassy mentioned he believes Unuakhalu is able to taking part in basketball and volleyball on the collee degree, however lacking out on his junior season will probably see him heading off to junior faculty subsequent season.

“When you’ve experiences and years taken away from you, you develop appreciation and gratitude each second you get on the court docket, and it’s permitting him to maximise his potential taking part in a sport he loves,” Aghassy mentioned.

Unuakhalu isn’t quiet when he makes a play.

“When it comes to vocal power, when he scores factors, it’s infectious,” Aghassy mentioned.

Lopez mentioned he “couldn’t do” what Unuakhalu did, skip a complete yr of taking part in sports activities.

Requested if he ever considered secretly taking part in sports activities, Unuakhalu mentioned, “I may have finished that, however I’ve realized if you take heed to your dad and mom, they offer you extra leniency.”

So take pleasure in each second you see Unuakhalu taking part in sports activities, as a result of he’s making up for misplaced time.

Requested what he enjoys extra, a dunk in basketball or a kill in volleyball, Unuakhalu mentioned, “Undoubtedly a dunk as a result of it’s not that usually.”