During the last two years, sporting venues that were once packed with fans, turned into ghost towns.
The entire sporting world felt this setback that touched many communities. Universities, including Cabrini, couldn’t escape this. From professional sporting events, all the way down to little league organizations, fan support and family presence faded. This has been the story for most of 2020 and 2021, as athletes of all ages and levels were affected physically and mentally.
Still, the pandemic didn’t stop sports teams from making a comeback.
As the 2022 sporting season kicked off, people experienced normalcy for the first time in a while. With lifted restrictions, events are now operating as they were doing so before COVID-19 shutdowns. One lacrosse player reflected on the changes.
“For most of the 2021 season, we didn’t have fans allowed and as it went on we were limited to two spectators only. The atmosphere was odd and made it seem like the games didn’t mean anything, even though they did,” Austin Bolton, junior lacrosse attack, said.
As shutdowns occurred, large public gatherings were halted and sporting organizations were canceled when March 2020 arrived. The lacrosse team also suffered greatly with their year coming to an end after playing only five games.
Desires to rebuild massive atmospheres that people were so used to resonated and grew. This became even more hard-hitting as the NCAA Division II and III announced that they were canceling the fall championship tournaments for the 2020 season, as reported by the organization right before the commencement of seasons.
Cabrini directly felt these effects in the fall of 2020 with how the entirety of fall sports such as men’s soccer, women’s soccer, volleyball and field hockey were canceled. The winter 2020-21 reflected a transition in sports at Cabrini. At that time, Cabrini had winter programs such as basketball and swimming, which were limited to a few games and meets. No fans had no access.
The 2021 season was where the lacrosse program revitalized themselves and competed again. Even though they eventually fell short in the national tournament, a lot of young talent and tools for success are pointing things toward the right direction.
“I never lost hope of things getting back to the way they were in some way. It annoyed me not knowing if my family could support me or not during any given game,” Bolton said. “It was always something they had to plan ahead on, with how I have younger siblings and my hometown is five hours away.”
The returning program last year was a breath of fresh air for Cabrini and overall gave hope for the 2021-2022 school year. A team finally had a flowing season once again with growing numbers of faces returning to the games.
As athletes from all sports gained the ability to reclassify in their sport because of COVID-19, the 2021-22 year opened back up with big moments and re-energized spirits from teams and supporters.
Reflecting back, Cabrini sports had some big moments. Fans packed big home basketball games, the dance team had a chance to perform at a fan-filled 76ers game and the four-for-four championship day cemented its legacy forever, reminding everyone how amazing these environments can be.
Corbin Carraghan, senior lacrosse defense, weighed in on his aspirations of competing in front of home crowds now that he has recovered from injury.
“It’s game-changing to have the fan section back to normal after my long recovery from injury. Having the supportive fans up on the hill and in the stands has made every second of this process worth the wait,” Carraghan said. “I knew I couldn’t return to a college sport until I was 100%, and this got to me mentally the first few months.”
With Carraghan and many other athletes that were in his shoes before returning during their season, coming back to atmospheres that were absent for quite some time is the perfect welcoming.
This year has truly reminded us about how much the culture of athletics at Cabrini bonds everyone together through times of adversity. Not only does this resonate with the people that are risking their bodies to bump up on the win column, but it also does with the loyal spectators.