By Taylor Viles – Sports Editor
Lasers were able to return to competition in the spring semester, but there was one notable excitement factor missing from the action—fans.
The significance of “home-field advantage” was no longer advantageous to the home team. The sidelines were quiet, except for the occasional cheer from a member of the game day staff.
But this fall, the Laser faithful were able to return to Grellier Field, Taylor Field and the athletic center, making the atmosphere come alive.
“We’re playing and there are fans and it feels normal,” said Director of Athletics Kristy Walter. Lasell’s fan base is part of what makes the sports atmosphere feel normal to players and spectators.
Walter said bringing fans back to the sidelines was one of her goals for the fall semester. The longtime Laser leader admitted she had received pressure in the spring from athletes’ families to allow them to watch games live but conference rules prohibited their attendance.
“Especially when people got vaccinated they said, ‘why can’t we come?’” Walter recalled.
The introduction of the vaccine was the main reason for allowing fans on campus. When at a game, fans are held to the same COVID-19 standards as students. At outdoor games, masks are only required for unvaccinated fans and at women’s volleyball matches (the only team currently playing in the Athletic Center). Masks are required indoors as well as either a negative test or proof of vaccination to be able to attend a game.
Lasell sports fans have descended upon the community for games during the semester and have shared their excitement. “The energy from the players is so much better when the fans are here. You know, it was almost a little lonely for them to play a game. Of course, they love the game and they wanted to play but it was just so quiet they don’t have that excitement factor,” said fan Andrea Zahnlauter, a family friend of one of the players.
It’s no secret that players can feed off of the crowds’ energy. Fans see that all the time in professional sports events. For example, when a team is in a “crunch- time” situation, the noise created from the home crowd is off-putting to any team they are rooting against.
Senior field hockey player Kait Duarte says the difference between fans and no fans is notable and says this current fan section is extra special. “The fan section this year has been great, I think even better than it ever was pre pandemic,” said Duarte. “They bring great energy and it definitely brings our morale up when we are feeling down.”
As the world recovers from the last year-and-a-half, sports fandom will be important to help people remember life’s joys. At Lasell, that started this fall.
“I’m really glad they let us come in this year,” said Zahnlauter.