Braves Keep Win Streak Alive, Fans Ignore COVID Policy


By Andrew Thrift, Sports Editor

Published April 1, 2021

UNC Pembroke Baseball faced off against Georgia College, winning the game Friday, March 12, 10-1, then winning both games in the doubleheader on Saturday, March 13, 6-5 and 11-5. The following week, Braves baseball won 2-1 against Wingate on St. Patrick’s Day. These wins this past week keep UNC Pembroke first in the Peach Belt Conference.

Many fans came and cheered on their braves, but some weren’t following the recently announced attendance policy. On Wednesday, March 10, UNC Pembroke Athletics announced a new attendance policy for the remaining 2020-2021 sports season. The policy states that only UNCP student-athletes, coaches and their guests, UNCP students, faculty, staff, and Major League Baseball scouts as well as UNCP student media can attend. This new policy includes the pre-existing mask and social distancing policy created at the beginning of the 2020-2021 athletics season.

The Braves’ dugout during Saturday’s first game versus Georgia College. PN Photo/Andrew Thrift.

The new policy states that for Sammy Cox Field, “Attendance for all home baseball games at Sammy Cox Field is limited to 164 fans. Students and faculty/staff members must reserve their ticket by RSVPing to the event on the department’s #BraveNation rewards app. Students and faculty/staff members must claim their ticket upon arrival to the main gate at Sammy Cox Field. Fans in attendance must wear masks and practice physical distancing with non-homogenous groups. Temperature checks will take place prior to fans entering the facility.”

At the entrance to Sammy Cox Field that weekend, there was a table with a list and a scanner thermometer, although temperatures were not taken for any fans entering the facility. Students could also enter the field as they pleased when the game started, because the person sitting at the table left. There was no enforcement of masks or social distancing once fans entered the stands.

“I was very disappointed when I saw that others weren’t treating COVID policies seriously. You’d think after exactly one year, they would be a little more serious about the matter. It was especially hard to see the people around them who were following the protocol having to be so close to others who were not,” said Gabrielle Walatee, UNCP freshman who attended all three games.

There were approximately 50 spectators in the stands at Sammy Cox Field for Saturday’s game. PN Photo/Andrew Thrift.

It was exactly one year after the beginning of the pandemic in March of 2020. The first game on Friday had roughly 60 people in attendance, with 45 fans in the stands and about 15 sitting in lawn chairs away from the field. An announcement during the first game on Saturday, with about 50 in the stands and 10 in lawn chairs, was the only time fans were reminded to wear their masks properly and practice social distancing. By the last game on Saturday night, there was approximately 100 fans in attendance, with 80 in the stands and 20 in lawn chairs.

Asked if lack of enforcement is to keep fans in the stands, UNCP Athletic Director Dick Christy said, “Short answer, no, we continue to expect fans to follow the guidelines. To date, only gentle reminders about wearing masks correctly have been needed regarding COVID protocols.”

The new attendance policy for other UNC Pembroke athletic facilities can be found on the UNC Pembroke Athletics website.

River Ryan sliding in safe as the throw to home plate gets pass Georgia College’s catcher. PN Photo/Andrew Thrift.

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