After the COVID-19 pandemic kept Ball State fans from attending basketball games in the 2020-21 season, they were welcomed back with open arms for the Cardinals’ exhibition game against Oakland City.
“It’s just another level of basketball,” redshirt junior guard Anna Clephane said. “When there are people there supporting you and you can hear them, it really makes you want to step it up a notch. It’s just super exciting to be back in this kind of atmosphere.”
The fans helped energize Ball State to a 122-26 victory over the Mighty Oaks. After only playing in front of parents and stadium staff for a year, the Cardinals loved having more people watch them.
“It feels really good to look up and see everyone,” junior guard Sydney Freeman said. “I saw different sports teams, more family members, it’s just really fun to have everyone there.”
Head coach Brady Sallee understands the importance of fans, not just for the players, but to the fans themselves.
“I know some die-hards that weren’t able to make it last year, and I heard from so many of them how excited they were to come out,” Sallee said. “You never know what you miss until it’s gone. Last year, it was like a huge void when we ran out every game at home. And I’m so excited for them to get that part of it back. Even for me, it’s exciting.”
Sallee also said that it was fun for the players to finally play in front of people again.
“It was fun to get them out in front of the home crowd again,” Sallee said. “After last year with COVID, playing in an empty gym, for me, it was great to walk out with a buzz again. And for them, I think it would be the same thing.”
Ball State hopes to get an even bigger crowd as it plays its first regular-season match Tuesday, Nov 9 against Milwaukee. Tip-off starts at 11:30 a.m.
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