As the start of Tech’s basketball season approaches, players, coaches and fans are excited to enjoy the season at total capacity, post-COVID-19 restrictions.
Last year, the United Supermarkets Arena had implemented COVID-19 protocols that only allowed 25 percent of the stadium to be filled. Krista Gerlich, head coach of women’s basketball, said she is ready for the upcoming season.
“I’m super excited about (full capacity) because (it’s) my first year back at my alma mater, to be at 25 percent, you’re like, dang, but we lead the Big 12 in attendance,” Gerlich said. “I think that shows that our crowd will come out, you know, and so I’m super excited about seeing a lot more people in the stands.”
Gerlich said the sixth man is an important role the Lady Raider nation relies on for support. The fans’ cheers and rallies create the illusion of a sixth player on the court, which gives the Lady Raiders an advantage while at home.
“I also would like for our Lady Raider Nation to know that the sixth man is huge for us, we’ve got to have home-court advantage, and that’s going to be extremely big in Big 12 play,” Gerlich said. “I hope that they will come out and know that they’re a huge part of what we’re trying to do.”
Vivian Gray, a senior guard from Argyle, transferred from Oklahoma State to Tech at the start of the 2020-2021 season.
Gray’s first season at Tech was at the height of the pandemic, and she said she was unable to experience the atmosphere of Lady Raider nation.
“I’m excited, even when I was at my old school and coming to play at Tech, I remember how nice the crowd was and how energetic they were,” Gray said. “I’m excited to be able to see that firsthand.”
Gray will be playing against her old team on Jan. 8 and said she is excited about the arena atmosphere.
“I am most excited to play against Oklahoma State this year because that’s my alma mater,” Gray said. “Playing against them with this new team, I think it’d be really fun. I think the atmosphere is going to be great.”
Ella Tofaeono, a junior center from Sydney, Australia, transferred from Texas A&M for the 2021-2022 season.
“I’m excited. We walked into the United Supermarkets Arena for our scrimmage against the guys on Saturday,” Tofaeono said. “It’s just the small things like sitting next to your teammate and having that camaraderie on the bench.”
Bryn Gerlich, a junior forward from Colleyville, transferred from OSU in the fall of 2020, so her Tech crowd experience was not at its full potential, she said.
“I’m so excited things are at least mostly back to normal. It’s more team-like now with our training; we get to do team bonding stuff like we’re just getting to be more of a family this year,” Bryn Gerlich said. “It feels like that (this season) is going to be the best whenever games start because our fans can come and support.”