The New NCAA: Finding Noise in a Silent Sanctuary


Photos: Olamide Gbotosho

Steven McAvoy

On the sheet of ice entrapped within the confines of plexiglass boards loosely emulating the new age Roman coliseum, Quinnipiac men’s and women’s Ice Hockey have consistently heard the crashing and clanging on pucks hitting walls and pipes.

On the multicolored hardwood, Quinnipiac men’s and women’s Basketball have been listening to the soothing tones of splashing nets and squeaking sneakers.

Since August, all four of Quinnipiac’s winter arena sports teams have been in their sanctuary practicing with no one there to watch them.

Thanks to COVID-19, that won’t change.

No fans will fill the People’s United Center this year.

2 arenas. 6,956 blue seats. Empty.

Regardless of whether or not fan noise will be played through the arena, there won’t be a true fan reaction from outside the plexiglass walls or beyond the white line on the hardwood.

For the fans, the unsettling feeling of life without games means the possibility of falling fandom, with some students unable to purchase an ESPN+ subscription to watch.

No fans also mean the first time since the early part of the 2010s that Quinnipiac hockey will be without their beloved Teletubbies.

Additionally, no fans mean a few clubs and organizations on campus have to rework their plans amidst the pandemic.

For Dustin Moffre, Vice President of QU Spirit, it’s a time to keep students engaged and ready for a day fans can flood the student section once more.

“[QU Spirit] been focusing more on giveaways and working with the SGA on Bobcat Fridays to keep students engaged and keep school spirit high,” said Moffre.

When asked about not being at games, Moffre said that the aura will change, but the product on the field will stay consistent.

“Obviously no fans mean some game situations will change,” said Moffre. “Our biggest goal is to give QU momentum, and without us it will definitely be different, but there is a lot of talent among these teams.”

For Sean Truehart, a drummer for the Pep Band, the lack of their support at games will be felt, but it will resurrect an old feeling for the players.

“I think there’s going to be a big change in atmosphere,” said Truehart. “I think it might take the student athletes back to their childhood rec games without a large crowd like they’re used to.”

For many Quinnipiac athletes and coaches, playing without fans have been reserved to practice.

Now in lieu of Quinnipiac’s announcement of no fans for the 2020-21 season, athletes are prepared for what’s to come, but still are concerned for what it will be like.

For men’s hockey captain Odeen Tufto, his biggest concern is where he’ll find extra energy down the stretch.

When there’s a big crowd, whether it’s in warmups or before the game, the adrenaline and a little bit of the hype kicks in,” Tufto said. “Now, you have to create your own energy, and that will be different and that will definitely be challenging for us early on.”

Unlike Tufto, women’s basketball sophomore Mikala Morris said enough energy comes from her sideline. “I don’t really focus on who’s there but just the game itself and we’ve done a great job at picking each other up and supporting everyone.”

The 2020-21 NCAA year will be unlike any we’ve ever seen.

Limited attendance at power five schools, no attendance at most mid majors, potentially limited fans at major bowl games and during March Madness.

The feeling of playing with no fans may bring athletes back to their roots.

Playing inside empty gyms or rinks hearing the same things they hear now, at practice: the squeaking sneakers, the booms of basketballs hitting hardwood, the skirt of skates sliding on ice, and the clank of pucks hitting the board and ringing off posts.

It’s a new environment, but like everyone going through it, it presents an opportunity.

An opportunity to grow. A chance to develop. A story you can tell.

A time that you can say you lived, played, coached, or watched, as the college athletics world changed.