By Jacob Liddicotte
After a long year of COVID limitations at sporting events, a light of hope is shining through this semester as fans return to Pacer sports.
This season the Herman Athletic Center will be able to hold 50% of its capacity and sports occurring outside will have no restrictions, letting teams’ friends and fans join them for the first time since March of 2020.
“Having fans makes a huge difference,” said Alfonso Turcios, #20 for the men’s soccer team and a senior majoring in business administration. “We all have been working hard to show fans what we can do this season.”
For the upcoming season, fans will fill the Hermann, or the Herm as some call it, to cheer on the Pacer volleyball and basketball teams. Outdoor sports, including both men’s and women’s soccer and cross country will no longer require fans to be put on a list from players to watch from the stands.
Before the sports season gets its heel into the dirt and takes off running, there are a few things that need to be talked about, one of which is how teams are getting ready for the season.
Two teams that were in the spotlight last season are men’s soccer and women’s volleyball. Men’s soccer made it to the conference finals, falling in a heart-breaking 0-1 loss to conference rival Greensboro College.
Volleyball was ranked #1 all last season and up until the division finals were undefeated. They fell to the #2-ranked team, Averett University. It all came down to the final set for the Pacers, who unfortunately came up short.
“We had a lot of senior leadership that led us through our ups and downs,” said Nicole Barringer, head women’s volleyball coach. “This year we are looking for that leadership in our juniors and sophomores. We don’t have any seniors this year so we have an exciting two years ahead of us.”
With only juniors as acting leaders, this season will be one of both leading and growing for the Pacers volleyball team, and their practices reflect that.
“We have a big roster this year so we have gotten creative in using the gym to its fullest potential by setting up two courts in the same gym vs using the aux gym,” Barringer said. “Now we get to stay together but still use two courts to optimize our time.”
As for the soccer team, they have been working all summer.
Turcios said the team worked on fitness, “running every week and even if on vacation, we maintained a focus on our goal.”
“Whether it be the conference championship or even just a college rivalry,” said Turcios, “[We] have raised our own base while also increasing our ceiling.”
Another team on the rise is women’s soccer, as they grow and develop into another team bringing home championships and divisions finals. They are well on their way with a great base to build up.
“Our biggest challenge from last season were injuries,” said Reid Clewis, head women’s soccer coach. “We lost some important players and had others that played hurt throughout the year. I’m looking for this group to realize their potential, we have an older established base of returners to help lead the newcomers in the right direction.”