After spending almost a month at home here in The Bahamas, Bahamian professional volleyball player Shonari Hepburn is back in Switzerland preparing to get the 2020-2021 season underway for his new club, TVS Schönenwerd, in the Swiss National Liga. His league is set to begin their regular season on October 4, taking on his former club Lindaren Volley Luzern in an away matchup.
“I’m definitely excited. This is the first time I have the opportunity to play against one of my old teams, so I plan to cherish the moment, especially with the game being in their gym,” Hepburn said.
Hepburn arrived in Switzerland about a week late due to issues at the airport here in The Bahamas. He missed his initial flight. His new team has started training already but he is still in quarantine. Hepburn hopes to meet his new teammates and begin practicing as early as Saturday, September 12.
“The situation here fluctuates like it does in every country,” Hepburn stated. “Switzerland has been adding countries to its ‘COVID blacklist’, which seems like almost every week, so you would either need a visa to enter or have to quarantine for 10 days after arriving. They have implemented a COVID-19 tracking app that you must have on your smart phone, and it helps in letting you know if you may have been potentially exposed to COVID.”
It was a different offseason for the towering player, when he came home, than what he is accustomed to. Due to certain restrictions that The Bahamas had in place, he was unable to train properly. Hepburn said he had limited access to facilities and nowhere to train, making it difficult for him to maintain fitness for the upcoming season.
After his 2019-2020 season came to an abrupt halt in March of this year, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, he said he is refocused. His goals are lofty for the upcoming season.
“I just want to pick up where I left off last season. I have unfinished business in this league, which is one of the determining factors in me wanting to return. My goal is to be the top middle again. I also want to win both the league title and Swiss Cup championship and to help my team make it as far as possible in our European Cup games,” Hepburn stated.
Last season, the 6’7” middle blocker was able to help his team get to the playoffs but the season was canceled due to COVID-19. TVS Schönenwerd finished second in the regular season standings. He is looking forward to seeing how far he can go as a pro athlete this season.
“Even with it being a strange season because of everything that is going on, I’m still looking to improve my game, push myself and have fun doing it. At this point in my career, I still feel like I don’t have a ceiling on what I can accomplish, so I want to see how far I can go as a professional athlete,” he said.
Hepburn is heading into his fifth year as a pro and looks forward to playing the full season.