Marshall back to full capacity for fans

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HUNTINGTON, WV (WOWK/HERDZONE) – Alright Herd fans, we’re back.

In accordance with updated public health guidelines, Marshall University athletic events will be allowed to operate at full capacity starting this fall – and for the duration of the 2021-22 athletic calendar – barring any changes to those guidelines.

So, welcome back to Joan C. Edwards Stadium for football games this fall. Join us at Hoops Family Field for men’s and women’s soccer, too. Our national championship winning men’s soccer program will surely be a hot ticket. We’ll have no restrictions at the Cam Henderson Center, where volleyball will continue its ascent with an impressive roster and a strong slate of games.

Jeff O’Malley, who will become Marshall’s Interim Director of Athletics on July 1, received word Wednesday night that full capacity for home athletic events was back. Thundering Herd head coaches reacted with glee.

Charles Huff, Football

“I’m excited about the opportunity for every seat in the Joan to be full. Not only is this big for our football program, but it’s also big for our community. This community was built on coming together on football game days and cheering on the Herd and last year was rough on all of us. Hopefully this is the first step of many to getting this community back stronger than ever before!”

Chris Grassie, Men’s Soccer

“I’m very excited to welcome all of our Herd fans back to our matches this season. The amount of support and love we received from all of you was a huge reason we won a national championship. I’m hoping this year we can continue to smash our attendance records and make our matches fantastic events to be a part of. When we do things together as Herd nation, we can accomplish anything!”

Ari Aganus, Volleyball

“We are so excited to have our Herd family back at full capacity in the Cam Henderson Center. We’ve missed all the familiar faces, energy and the atmosphere they bring during all of our matches. Our first match back with everyone in the stands will be very special and we cannot wait to see a packed house!”

Michael Swan, Women’s Soccer

“We are delighted to be able to welcome back the greatest supporters in college athletics. We’ve got several home game scheduled for Friday night under the lights and hope to reach that 100 percent capacity. It’s been a long time coming and this is another step back to normalcy.”

Swan ended with the magic word: normalcy. Indeed, this is a step toward life as we knew it before the coronavirus pandemic drastically reshaped the 2020-21 athletics calendar.

Now, as long as nothing changes, we can cram as many of our beloved fans into Joan C. Edwards Stadium, Hoops Family Field, the Henderson Center and every other venue as the year progresses. The collective roar of this news should shake the foundation of our 38,227-seat football home. We missed this in 2020. We yearned for packed chair backs and bleachers. We longed for the sea of Kelly green. We needed the rush of the explosion of a full stadium of fans screaming “We are …” … “Marshall!” back and forth from the west side to the east side of the football stadium. Think of your favorite moments in the history “The Joan” and then recall how spectacular the crowd reaction corresponds with how fondly you cherish the memory.

When it comes to soccer, one doesn’t even have to dig deep into the memory bank.

As the Marshall men’s soccer team defeated five consecutive nationally ranked teams to win the Division I national title in May, attendance restrictions were slowly altered with each round. By the time Grassie and the Herd defeated Indiana, 1-0, on May 17, to capture the program’s first national championship, hundreds of passionate supporters had turned into thousands in Cary, North Carolina. There’s little doubt Marshall supporters would have gobbled up every ticket had the opportunity presented itself.

Hopefully, the return to 100 percent capacity is challenged by Herd nation when competition begins in August. Fill Joan C. Edwards Stadium. Huff has made noise since his hiring in January with enthusiasm and expectations. His September 11 debut should be deafening.

Grassie and Swan should see a sea of green at Hoops Family Field. Aganus wants to break the single game attendance record for a home volleyball game.

The best part is, no matter how ambitious one’s dream is for the upcoming season, the news of full capacity makes it possible.

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