Fall Athletics Feelings

McD Teams Succeed Despite Empty Stands


Contributed photo/Shirley Sebunia

Water Polo parents still show support for their student athletes despite Covid-19 restrictions for indoor sporting events. They didn’t want the stands to be empty so they made their own “fans” to show their support.

Molly Sebunia, a senior on the McDowell High School water polo team, is enjoying a winning season for her senior year, but for her family it is not as fun.
No spectators are allowed on the pool deck, and her family is forced to watch her last year in the water through a YouTube Live Stream due to the COVID-19 pandemic restrictions.
“I know my parents are pretty upset about it, and with such a drastic difference between the 250 person limit for outdoor sports and the 25 person limit for indoor sports, a lot of people don’t realize how few people we can actually let into the natatorium,” Molly said. “It’s a little disheartening being a senior and knowing that my parents can’t really watch any of my games or see how I perform in the pool.”
The pandemic is affecting the district’s athletic program across all sports changing how things work for practices and games.
This isn’t just affecting students; it is affecting parents as well, “It’s disappointing to have a senior on the water polo team and not be allowed to watch Molly play in person,” said Molly’s mother, Shirley Sebunia. She said being a parent of a senior and not being able to go to games to view her last year at McDowell is hard.
McDowell athletes including Molly are upset about this as well as everybody on the water polo team and the other fall McDowell teams.
All around Erie, schools have had to adapt to the Covid-19 restrictions, but it seems that each school district has chosen different solutions.. Some schools are allowing parents to be inside for their children’s games, and others are not.
“Other districts allow more indoor spectators. MTSD and its athletic department could, at a minimum, allow senior parents in the natatorium to view games in person,” Shirley said. Her knowing that other schools allow parents to view games in person has upset her family.
Not only are parents and student athletes upset with what has come with COVID-19, but so are the coaches. They all feel sympathy for these athletes and their families because the situation is sad and it’s hard for the athletes to not have the support they are used to having.
Coaches miss the way they played last year too, with the support they had and how they would start their games.
“When you take the crowd, our incredible band, cheerleaders, DJ, our helmet and tunnel we run through, it has become the best game day environment around,” McDowell Football Coach Brad Orlando said. He said players from all over the district aren’t getting the same positive energy they had in previous years.
Orlando feels bad for his players because they don’t get the same experiences they had in previous years.
“Our players have lost out on 40% of their regular season games and the atmosphere of a packed house at Gus Anderson Field,” Orlando said. Losing most of their games, plus not having their support from friends and family, makes their season pretty boring.
Teams are doing all they can to be able to have a somewhat normal season for their coaches and players, but a lot of things are different from last year.
“Being a larger athletic team and splitting up our team into groups inside the building has been the biggest adjustment,” Orlando said.
Despite the changes and restrictions McDowell teams are making the most of their seasons, the football team has a winning record of 3-0 and the girls’ water polo team is undefeated as well with a record of 6-0.
“Overall, I would say it makes it easier to focus on pure gameplay, but it makes it harder to stay motivated and inspired throughout the entire game,” Molly said.