Connor’s Corner

Supportive fans gathered Friday night to fill the seats of the Erie Insurance Arena to celebrate the life of Abbie Brynda and to cheer on the Gannon University club ice hockey team.
I am a junior left-winger on the hockey team, and can tell you firsthand that the atmosphere in the building was electric. It felt great to play for something bigger than myself, and it’s moments like that, that make up for all the grueling practices and long road trips.
Home events allow teams an opportunity to showcase their talents in front of peers and family members. But not all Gannon varsity sports are provided this luxury this year.
The Carneval Athletic Pavilion has been under construction and consequently, the men’s and women’s swimming and diving teams along with both the water polo teams have not been able to compete in downtown Erie.
Shanen Lazenby, a sophomore member of the women’s water polo team and sprint freestyle specialist for the women’s swimming and diving team, said the lack of home events has been troubling for her teams.
“It is very disappointing because we have no support from our local community and our families can’t come support us as easily,” Lazenby said.  “No home meets means not as many chances to race and always having to adapt to a new pool.”
Lazenby said there were some positive aspects to the unfortunate dilemma, but added that they were few and far between. She said the swimming and diving team has competed in fewer meets, which allowed the members more time to focus on schoolwork.
Terrance Coughran, a senior sprint freestyle specialist on the men’s swimming and diving team, said the most disappointing aspect of having no home meets has to do with not being able to honor the senior members of the team.
“The absence of home meets not only left our peers and faculty members without a chance to watch us swim, but our seniors were unable to celebrate senior night as the three classes before them have,” Coughran said.
Coughran said he was excited to see the new Gannon sports complex. He noted one positive of not having a home meet this year is that the old facility was not suited for a proper race warm-up and warm-down.
“Most other pools have enough room for competition to take place and for swimmers to prepare and recover from their races,” Coughran said. “As for the new facility next year, as all the other athletes probably feel the same way – I cannot wait to see it, or start training in it.
“A new facility will only make our team that much stronger in all aspects of our sport.”
The Gannon Athletic department needs to understand the importance of support from the Gannon community for all of its sports teams.
The university should allow students to take a bus – funded by the school – to take them to cheer on their peers during meets nearby in Pennsylvania. The athletic department also needs to do something special to honor the seniors of all Gannon aquatic teams.
The picture from senior night during my final year on my high school hockey team remains as a staple on my wall, and serves as a token of my time and effort. I am able to look back and see myself with my family on the ice before competing in the sport I love.
The men’s basketball team honored the new inductees to Gannon’s Hall of Fame during a game, and the same could be done for these athletes who are not afforded the same opportunity.

CONNOR SONDEL

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