SCRANTON, LACKAWANNA COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU) — From the classroom to the court, the COVID-19 pandemic has posed a lot of challenges when it comes to college athletics.
The women’s basketball team at the University of Scranton finally played its first home game Sunday night. They continue to push through COVID hurdles this season. Eyewitness News reporter Julie Dunphy takes a closer look at the Lady Royals while they are training during COVID.
“For a while we really didn’t think we’re gonna have a season at all,” sophomore Bridget Monaghan said.
“The break was way longer than we wanted to be but it made us super appreciative and we were able to come back and get started,” junior Danielle McCurdy said.
After many months of uncertainty, the Lady Royals are finally able to suit up.
“When we finally got the call that we were gonna be able to play any season given everything that’s going on and take it to consideration how many people have lost their season you know we just been really appreciative of the opportunity,” head coach Nick Dipillo said.
But there are still a few bumps in the road this season.
“There’s no question that it’s challenging and we know that and we knew coming in look there are going to be pauses. We’ve been paused twice already in women’s basketball. Neither one of the pauses was our fault per se. We have not had any positive cases but we understand that we certainly could,” director of athletics Dave Martin said.
“We just have to be ready and like able to focus and if it comes from an off day to a practice day and just change our schedule every day basically,” McCurdy said.
Practice and training look a lot different now.
“Locker room access being limited, testing three times a week, wearing a mask when you play, it’s been a lot different,” Dipillo said.
In order to train, athletes at the university have to make a reservation to get in the weight room.
And when it comes to game time, pre-game, half-time and post-game meetings happen in the gym rather than the locker room.
“It’s been a challenge. Not only are we following NCAA guidelines but we’re also following CDC guidelines and Pennsylvania Department of Health guidelines,” Martin said.
Masks are always on whether it’s practice or game time.
“Personally I find wearing the masks worse during practice and then during the games I don’t really realize it’s there as much but it’s sad to say I’m definitely getting used to it,” Monaghan said.
“It’s definitely a pain but like as we’ve gotten used to it I honestly I start to forget that it’s on after a while and it’s like if this is what we have to do and that’s what we’re willing to do so we can play,” McCurdy said.
The fans are a little quieter this year.
“This is like the closest thing we have to the fans this year which like we’re super appreciative of. It’s people’s way to donate and show their support this year,” McCurdy said.
“I think the cardboard cutouts definitely help a lot. It would be sad if it was empty bleachers,” Monaghan said.
When the ball goes up, the team has to get each other motivated.
“Our energy comes from ourselves, the kids who aren’t in the game or coaching staff provide a lot of energy, lotta positive support,” Dipillo said.
“We’re the only volume in the gym so we use each other to pump each other up and that’s all we have so that’s all we got,” McCurdy said.
“I think we’re doing a pretty good job of keeping each other excited for the season and any game we get,” Monaghan said.
The Lady Royals finally played their home game on Sunday versus Catholic University. Scranton lost 60-55.
And remember you can’t watch them in person but to find more about how to support them with a cardboard cutout, visit the University of Scranton athletics website.