New spectator policies have allowed all current Messiah University students, staff and faculty to attend home athletic events. Messiah’s athletes have been enjoying this change since its implementation earlier this month.
The Middle Athletic Conference Presidents and Board of Directors allowed each collegiate institution to decide what guidelines best fit their school regarding COVID. As a result, Messiah University has aligned their regular-season policy to match their current policy regarding visitors.
Now, athletes can return to competing with fans in the stands.
“I was extremely stoked about it,” Cole Cristian, a sophomore men’s soccer player, said. “A lot of that is just like, my motivation as far as what drives me to play. The people supporting me along the way getting to where I’m at is really cool.”
Cristian finds one of the soccer team’s strengths is their ability to treat each game like a “big game.” Without spectators, it has been harder to do that.
“It’s a lot easier when you have fans there,” Cristian said, “It feels more authentic.”
That return to “authenticity” is something other athletes have been appreciating as well.
Lindsay McFeaters, a first-year field hockey player, and Isabel Villegas, a junior field hockey player, both found games to be more similar to the pre-pandemic days with spectators added.
“I think having fans gives a sense of normalcy that wasn’t there before,” Villegas said.
Villegas also values fans’ commitment to coming out to games.
“Having fans there definitely makes a difference,” she said, “it makes our program and our team feel more appreciated.”
However, the lingering COVID protocols make it hard for athletes to feel completely at ease. Cristian admitted that while it feels like things are getting back to normal, they still feel uncertain at times.
Even though athletics at Messiah is not completely back to normal, to Villegas, it is on the right track.
“I would love if, you know, there wasn’t that constant looming threat of our game getting canceled,” Villegas said.
McFeaters is optimistic looking towards playing next season.
“It’s really looking hopeful that we can be outside and have spectators in the fall,” she said.
In the meantime, however, athletes are enjoying the opportunities they have.
“We’re just so grateful for the opportunity to be participating and playing,” Cristian said.
For more information on the schedule for upcoming spectator events, students can go to gomessiah.com.