Ever wondered what it’s like playing for a huge crowd? Minnetonka High School’s football players get to, and typically it’s a rowdy yell-fest with tons of school pride. Unfortunately, due to the coronavirus pandemic and an increased fear of transmission, these football games are being live-streamed as opposed to receiving large in-person crowds to avoid exposure.
Many are curious about how these football players are adjusting to the lack of student presence, cheer, and live school pep, as well as about how the ongoing pandemic is affecting their game and their overall football season this year.
When asked how he felt about the season so far, Andrew McCalla, ‘22, said, “It’s unfortunate we can’t have the normal game atmosphere with the students, but we’re just happy to have a season.”
Sophomore coach Jason Bell had a similar response.
When asked the same, Bell said, “It’s been a whirlwind to be honest. First, I feel 100% supported by Ted and Paul in activities […] Football is like no other game in regards to preparation. Building culture can take time and that team bond and unity that are so crucial to success have really been sacrificed with the abrupt start here.”
The biggest game change has stood to be the lack of a supportive crowd.
When asked about the impact of a large crowd, McCalla said, “It sucks not having the normal three to five thousand people watch us play and bring that energy to the game; it’s something we have to sacrifice to play.”
Bell agreed and said, “My focus is the same. My guess is the kids focus more on the play without the crowds, but there’s definitely a lack of adrenaline that the crowd provides.”
It is quite fortunate that teams are able to play football and have a season at all. On the other hand, the atmosphere is just not the same without students and live cheering. The excitement is a confidence boost and easily gets the players in the ideal mindset. The perspective on preparation and how the pandemic has shaken up practice times, bringing about difficulties in scheduling is also relevant, but, at the end of the day, all participants fervently await the return of the crowds.
The student and crowd presence seem to be an integral part of the game and both students and coaches cannot wait for their enormous and rowdy crowds return. In the meantime, they have decided to focus on the bright side and look forward to the day when their friends and families come back–live.