By Kayla Smith, Emmy Wolfe & Kylie Heisz
606 days later, fans are finally able to return to the Kress Events Center.
In the first game in front of fans in 606 days, the Green Bay Phoenix Women’s Basketball team faced the University of Wisconsin Whitewater. Megan Vogel, Assistant Coach for UWGB Women’s Basketball team, commented, “It feels great having fans back in the stands. A big part of what makes Green Bay so special for our student-athletes is the community that supports them.”
Due to the pandemic, the University of Wisconsin Green Bay Women’s Basketball team played their season last year with no fans in the arena. However, Green Bay Athletics announced earlier this semester that 100% capacity would be allowed for all games. While full capacity is allowed, all audience members must be masked since the university is still mandating them.
The team has only five current players that have played in front of fans at a collegiate level, but as for the current first-year freshmen and second-year freshmen, they haven’t played in front of fans at a collegiate level. Megan Pingel, a Redshirt Senior, said, “I think it was an adjustment the first game we played just to be in a new atmosphere that we weren’t used to. Moving forward, I don’t think anybody will necessarily be affected by the fans, but it could definitely provide some extra energy for us at some points!” Pingel is one of the five players that has played in front of a crowd collegiately. Jasmine Kondrakiewicz, a second-year freshman, has not played in front of a crowd at the college level yet. When talking about how the first game with fans went she said, “It was overwhelming, but they (fans) give so much energy and support it’s unreal!”
For fans, this is a rare sighting. Fans are used to turning on their TV in the comfort of their home and watching the game, if the game was even streamed. Fans are excited to get back to in-person events. The turnout of the game was just like games prior to COVID-19. One fan who attended the game said, “It was fun attending the game. It lets me see other students and interact with them, which I haven’t been able to do for a while.” The student continued, “I loved being back in the arena and actually watching the game in-person!”