It is hard to imagine a Brookline basketball game without the hundreds of loud and passionate fans in attendance, but after a rollercoaster of emotions following an abrupt season suspension, the varsity boys basketball team will have to bring the energy to an empty gym.
Despite facing various setbacks such as postponements and empty fan sections, the boys basketball program has stayed hopeful and practiced relentlessly for their season.
Members of the team were upset when news of the season being postponed broke. First year varsity member and senior Adam Denker said he was jealous of other schools getting to play, but recognized the safety concerns behind it.
“At first, we were obviously upset because all the other programs had their basketball season, they had everything,” Denker said. “But on the other hand, we understand it’s a difficult time with COVID-19 and we have to put safety first, over us playing basketball.”
Following the original postponement of winter sports in early January, the team had been practicing at Downes Field together. They were careful to be safe; wearing masks and socially distancing while training hard for their much anticipated season ahead.
On Jan. 13, winter sports practices were fully paused. The team then switched to workouts over Zoom. Senior and varsity captain Adrien Bryant said the team was hopeful, and that they worked hard to ensure they were not too far behind competing towns who were still permitted to practice.
“We were trying to hold out hope that the season would return, and it did. We’re all really grateful. We would watch film and just talk,” Bryant said. “Our coaches did a great job of just checking in on us, just making sure we’re all okay. Then we would go through plays, and just stay ready and prepare for the return. That way we weren’t super far behind.”
Varsity head coach Courtney Valentine commended the resiliency and hard work of his athletes during the difficult times on Zoom when the team did not have a season.
On Jan. 26, when the season resumed, the team was grateful and excited to get back to playing.
However, they knew the atmosphere would be different without fans. Bryant said the environment without the fans was very different.
“It sucks playing without fans, just because Brookline fans are so much fun to play in front of, but just being able to play is great. So we try not to focus on what if we add fans, just being able to play,” Bryant said. “Not having fans is a big hit, but we always want to push each other to be the best versions of ourselves.”
Bryant said that the pregame rituals of the team have not changed much, but without fans they have to have a lot more energy both on the bench and on the court to compensate.
Bryant said the team managed to stay optimistic and grateful of their coaches and others who helped them.
“The coaches have really done a good job just making sure that we’re okay physically and mentally,” Bryant said. “Shout out to Alex, the trainer, just because as of COVID-19 we haven’t been able to work out a lot, so he’s been taking care of our wounds and injuries really well.”