Local News

'Frustrating and disappointing': No fans or families in stands for NC State opener

Posted September 14, 2020 10:29 p.m. EDT
Updated September 15, 2020 7:04 p.m. EDT

As college football returns, parents of college student-athletes are pushing to see them play in-person.

For families, it’s tradition to see their sons play football in the stadium, but current state regulations allow just 50 people to gather at a time in outdoor settings. So, for now, that means no fans in the stands.

Tracy Wilson, whose son Payton Wilson is a linebacker for North Carolina State University, looks forward to seeing her son play.

"Game day is a huge deal for us at N.C. State," explained Tracy Wilson. "Saturday, if that's not possible, that's going to be really disappointing."

N.C. State opens its season at home Saturday against Wake Forest. On Tuesday, some parents of NCSU student-athletes said they plan to deliver a petition to Gov. Roy Cooper's office on Thursday.

"It's just really frustrating and disappointing," described Tracy Wilson.

John Ruocchio is another N.C. State parent who can’t imagine not seeing his son, tight end Thomas Ruocchio, play in person right now.

"I'm looking at this one game at a time, and hopefully, we can change their hearts and minds," he said.

A few parents were in the stands for University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill’s home opener over the weekend. UNC head football coach Mack Brown addressed the issue on Monday.

"Our families have been told they can't come and see their sons play, and that's just not fair," said Brown. "I understand the pandemic, but it doesn't seem to be a safety issues because we're talking about hundreds of people that would be in a 50,000-seat stadium, and they'll have their own section, and they'll have a mask on."

Parents said they’re the biggest fans of the players who need their support.

"Those are still milestones that we're not getting back," said Pam Shimkom, an N.C. State parent.

Parents said, for now, they are finding other ways to support their boys, whether it’s at home or in a different state with looser restrictions.

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