Fundraiser leads to cardboard fans in stands at Dunmore games

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DUNMORE, LACKAWANNA COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU) — COVID-19 is still affecting and changing our way of life in ways we couldn’t have imagined a year ago, including the lack of fans in the stands at Thursday night’s Dunmore High School Lady Bucks basketball game.

A clever idea is taking away some of the sting of a season without spectators. It was a crowd of all shapes and sizes at the first game of the season. Even though fans couldn’t be there in person.

The cheerleading squad took inspiration from the NFL and MLB to support student athletes and boost morale.

When the Lady Bucks tipped off their first game of the season Thursday night, they were prepared for it to be much quieter than last year.

“That’s one of our home court advantages, we usually get very big crowds. Dunmore supports their student athletes,” Dunmore Head Girls’ Basketball Coach Ben O’Brien said.

They can’t allow spectators due to COVID-19.

“I think we’re all used to it by now and we’re all just excited to get back on the court. It’s going to be different, but at least we’re playing,” Junior Moriah Murray said.

But thanks to a cheerleading coach’s plan, student-athletes can still look in the stands and find familiar faces.

“It’s very difficult for the parents and grandparents not to be there supporting their athletes this year so we wanted to have a nice little touch from home for our players and cheerleaders as they perform,” Dunmore Basketball Cheer Coach Maura Reilly said.

Fans in the Stands is a fundraiser for the basketball cheerleaders. For $30, fans can submit a picture to be made into a cardboard cutout that will represent them at every varsity home game.

“To include some of the most loyal fans that we have and we have a lot of them so it’s a really neat idea and it does make it feel different in there,” O’Brien said.

“Seeing all the fans that are usually here in the game brings a smile to our face since they can’t actually be here,” Murray said.

The cardboard crowd included dogs, siblings and celebrity guests.

“A lot of the girls on the team are very excited that One Direction is out there,” cheer captain Sophia Pacewicz said.

“The high school students usually have a very good sense of humor so when you put something like this together no doubt about it – it’s going to be creative and have some funny elements to it and it looks like they’ve done that here,” O’Brien said.

Of course, they can’t wait to get some real fans in the stands. In the meantime, every game is live-streamed for parents and fans to watch from home.

More than 60 cutouts debuted Thursday night, and Dunmore fans can still order one until Friday at midnight with this link to purchase a “fan in the stand” and support student athletes.

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