by, Colleen E. McNamara & Jilleen Barrett, Asst. Sports Editor & A&E Editor
As of April 1, Manhattan College will be welcoming two family members per student-athlete to watch the athletic competitions on campus.
Marianne Reilly, director of athletics at Manhattan College, appreciates having student-athletes competing again and is equally thrilled to have their family and friends back in attendance soon.
“It brings me joy to have our student-athletes compete and for our coaches to be able to continue to do what they love,” Reilly said.
MAAC regulations allowed two family members per student-athlete for fans beginning March 6, but Manhattan College was forced to follow New York State guidelines.
“We had no choice [but to follow New York State guidelines],” Reilly said. “I would have loved to have our fans come to watch earlier, but I also want to do it safely. If the state says April 1, then April 1 it is.”
In the meantime, Whitney Swab, associate athletic director for Marketing and Fan and Donor Experience at Manhattan College, has worked to have fat heads of athletes’ families, friends, or pets created and placed in the stands in addition to streaming the games for fans to watch online on YouTube.
“We have gotten tremendous interest [from the streamed games],” Reilly said. “I would log on [to the YouTube channel] and see 268 people watching our lacrosse game, or someone internationally viewing the women’s soccer game, so I am thrilled to reach a larger group and share our athlete’s competitions.”
Despite the success of the streaming of the games, Manhattan College is advocating for students to be allowed into Gaelic Park to watch their friends compete in what Reilly called a “return to normal” plan.
“I am ecstatic to eventually have the students come cheer our teams on as well as the parents because it has been a long time, and as a community, we need to get back to what brings people happiness and that means getting involved with activities on campus,” Reilly said.
Matt Padre, a senior catcher on the Manhattan baseball team is glad to have his parents watch him play in-person.
“My parents are my biggest supporters and they are definitely excited to watch me and the team play live,” Padre said. “My parents don’t miss a beat, with or without the fans, I’m sure they would’ve tried to find a way to watch the game one way or another, but now that they can come watch, starting April 1st, they are thrilled to support the team and myself.”
In-person attendance is particularly exciting for fans of the Manhattan baseball team, as Padre predicts they will have a strong season.
“This year there’s a different energy and it comes because there’s a little edge and the attitude is a little different, so we’re expecting to win,” Padre said. “We know we got some talented guys, some probably going into the draft. So we have the attitude that this is the year to take advantage of our skills and capitalize.”
Victoria Alonso, a senior infielder on the softball team, loves playing again and predicts this season to be more rewarding than ever.
“I’m just really excited to play and this year is especially heartwarming because I am playing for my team to hopefully bring us to the MAAC Championship and prove that all the work I’ve done in the past 14 years will pay off now,” Alonso said.
Alonso’s family is eager to watch her compete from the stands of Gaelic Field.
“My dad and my brother have been through it from the beginning with me,” Alonso said. “So now that the coronavirus stopped fans [from watching in-person games], it was upsetting because I really wanted them to be there. But now that we’re allowed fans, I’m really excited to have at least both of them there.”