SWANZEY — In a normal year, Paul Joseph Breckell Gymnasium at Monadnock Regional High School would be packed for a game like this.
Instead, the Conant girls basketball team took down local Division 3 rival Monadnock, 60-30, on Wednesday in a nearly empty gym.
Missing was the rowdy student section, the band and the normal atmosphere that comes standard with these high-energy, rivalry basketball games.
“I’m willing to bet that if you talk to any coach that comes here and visits, that this is not one of their favorite gyms to play in,” said Monadnock head coach Rob Skrocki after Wednesday’s game. “We have a great atmosphere. We have an awesome community that supports everything, whether it’s arts or sports or whatever. And people show up for games like this, especially with Conant.”
Even Conant head coach Brian Troy seemed to enjoy reminiscing on past games at Monadnock, with the bleachers full of parents, students and fans.
“Usually when we come here, they have the band rocking, and they have the whole student section filled, but obviously that’s not the case this year,” Troy said.
Parents of Monadnock players were allowed into the gym for the game on Wednesday, but that was about it in terms of the fan base.
“The student section is a huge part of Monadnock,” said Monadnock junior Grace Furze, who scored seven points on Wednesday. “I think it’s a lot different.
“The gym’s quieter, calmer. You can see what’s going on more, you don’t get caught up in all the sounds and everything. We definitely miss it. We love when there are chirps and chants, they’re all so good, but we’re adapting well,” Furze added.
It’s definitely an adjustment. When momentum is swinging the home team’s way, there’s a minimal number of fans to help keep it going. And when the home team is down big, there aren’t many fans there to help provide a spark.
“It’s like a home team plus seven in football or something like that,” Skrocki said about having that normal atmosphere. “That usually helps us out a little bit. Definitely missed the love and support from the fans when we get down and have moments like we did [Wednesday]. The atmosphere is definitely different. I’m looking forward to getting it back to normal.”
The one silver lining? Visiting teams don’t have to deal with a loud and raucous crowd, chanting and screaming all game long.
“It’s usually a tough environment to play in, but with no fans like this, it’s easier,” said Conant sophomore Brynn Rautiola, who finished with a game-high 19 points, after the game. “It’s always a different environment at Monadnock.”
Rautiola scored a game-high 19 points in the win.
Furze agreed that playing in empty gyms can be easier when you’re visiting.
“We’re used to going to opposing schools and seeing their student sections, but that’s not happening,” Furze said. “So, home games it’s kind of ‘ugh,’ but when you go away, it’s kind of a treat.”