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Athletes reflect on winter sports without fans in attendance

January 28, 2022

courtesy of Brian Beard/Bowdoin Athletics
QUIET CROWDS: Watson Arena and Morrell Gymnasium have remained empty since December.

At the beginning of winter break, the College barred all those outside of the College’s COVID-19 testing program from attending indoor sporting events for the break’s duration. Whereas the new policy has led to a loss of a community for players, it has provided some surprise positives as well.

After stringing together numerous successful seasons, the women’s basketball team has formed both a large and loyal fanbase, whose absence does not go unnoticed by players.

“One of the things that our team is most proud of and excited about is our Bowdoin Women’s Basketball Community,” Sela Kay ’23 said. “That’s been one of my favorite things in my basketball career is just having all these people in Morrell, excited to watch us play and we definitely feed off of their energy.”

Whereas the lack of fans can lead to less excitement come game time, a quieter atmosphere allows teams to achieve greater focus. With Watson hockey arena remaining empty this month, members of the Bowdoin Men’s Hockey Team expressed this sentiment.

“It definitely feels less like a performance, and you feel more grounded,” Joe Alexander ’23 said. “You concentrate all your focus onto what’s going on in the arena—the game you’re playing.”

For some teams, fan support offers a way to connect with members of the Brunswick community they might otherwise never know. In previous years, fans from Brunswick have hosted men’s and women’s basketball players for dinners at their homes.

“They’re really kind to host us,” Kay said. “It’s been sad that we haven’t gotten to do that and build those connections within the community, especially with COVID last year. It’s been a while now.”

In addition to Brunswick residents, parents of players have also missed out on the opportunity to show their support in person.

“A lot of my teammates do have parents that live nearby, so that’s another thing we miss because our parents have been heavily invested in [our] careers since we were born,” Alexander said. “The fact that they can’t come to our games and watch us is upsetting, despite whatever is going on.”

However, parents of women’s basketball players have shown support beyond their physical presence.

“A couple of games ago, the parents all got together and wrote haikus for somebody else’s kid and then gave them to us,” Kay said. “They’re trying really hard to still stay in touch with us and show their support even without [being there in person].”

Following Bowdoin’s announcement, The New England Small College Athletic Conference (NESCAC) instated the same restriction for all colleges in the conference. The policy is in effect until the end of January but could be extended at any time.

“I’m hoping that whenever a decision is made with the NESCAC that they’re gonna start allowing some fans back,” Kay said. “Just as much as I’m sure fans miss supporting us, we really miss having them here.”

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