Cal Lutheran Athletics welcomes fans back to the stands

Cate Boller, Reporter

California Lutheran University is now permitting 33% capacity in the stands at on-campus athletic events, in compliance with California Department of Public Health guidelines.

Athletic Director Dan Kuntz said in a phone interview that in order to allow fans back into the stands, the university had to prepare a plan and propose it to the county, getting it approved before allowing spectators.

“The new policy allows for each athlete to invite two guests to the competition and allows for university stakeholders (such as faculty team advisors) to attend games,” Ryan Van Ommeren, associate vice president of Planning and Services said in an email interview.

Jalen Parks, junior on the Kingsmen Baseball team said that in the week leading up to the competition, athletes are tasked with inviting a couple friends or family members and then telling their head coach. After that, they receive a link they send to their invited guests where they fill out a health survey and have a ticket on their phones that will let them into the stands.

“It’s not the same when we don’t have [fans],” Kuntz said.

Kuntz said that since the day fans were permitted to attend competitions, there has been a more positive atmosphere among the players.

Parks said in a phone interview that playing with nobody in the stands didn’t make the games feel as real as they were.

“It just brings back the atmosphere of baseball back to Cal Lu,” Parks said.

Both Kuntz and Parks said having spectators back in the stands is motivating for the players out on the field and that it gives everyone another thing to play for.

“When you don’t think you can go anymore and you have people cheering you on you find something to go to the next level,” Kuntz said.

Parks said one of his favorite things about having fans back in the stadium is when they score, it brings the intensity to another level.

“We get more momentum coming out of the crowd,” Parks said.

Kuntz said that as a performer, there is more of an appreciation when you have people there watching you.

Van Ommeren said that based on emails he had received during the time when spectators were not allowed, he believes people are happy to be able to attend sporting events once again. He said it is fortunate that the State of California released new guidelines for higher education that allowed this to be possible.

“We will continue to do what we need to do to protect our athletes and our community,” Kuntz said.