The Liacouras Center was busier than usual on a Thursday night, as finals at Temple were last week. The cheerleaders rehearsed a number of routines on the floor and other athletes jogged around the perimeter of the gym up in the stands.
For a school that cut seven sports, the atmosphere was expected to have a different feeling or buzz lingering around campus. But a particular group of athletes appeared determined to damper any negative thoughts on the situation they are in the middle of.
Upper classman Alex Tighe and sophomore Blaise Cosenza, both members of the gymnastics team, expressed their passion and dedication to their unique sport.
Tighe described his reaction as shocking and completely surprising. Cosenza said the team was surprised when they were called upon for a meeting.
“We didn’t know if it was a good meeting or a bad meeting," Cosenza said. "When we walked in, we saw our assistant coach and you could tell that on his face that something was up."
As for the baseball team, the emotions were similar. Junior Nick Lustrino was also in the meeting with his teammates and his initial reactions were not far off from Tighe and Cosenza.
“I was stunned," he said. "All I was thinking was this is a dream. I just want to wake up right now. This isn’t happening. The meeting ended and we were all sitting there kind of dumbfounded. What do we do now?"
Despite the team's circumstances, they are handling the news with an incredibly mature attitude. They both mentioned their focus right now is on preparing for the 2014 season.
Senior baseball player Ryan Kuehn expressed the positive attitude he and his teammates have embraced over the last few weeks.
“We talked about what we wanted to do and I think this whole situation has brought us closer together," Kuehn said. "We are extremely motivated for one last run to show what Temple baseball is really about. We’re all in."
Tighe and Cosenza also remain positive and motivated to finish out their 2014 season with the help of their coaches and teammates.
“The goal right now is to get the job done and kick off strong like we always do," Tighe said.
Motivation is not only coming from within these teams, but the support they are receiving from their peers, professors and alumni has these athletes in high spirits.
A petition for the gymnastics team was started by alumni just hours after the news broke and the support has been overwhelming.
“We have support coming in from all over the nation, actually all over the world, so that’s keeping people’s hopes up right now," Tighe said. "Within the weekend we already had 10,000 signatures.”
The hard work these gymnasts put into their passion reflects on their character. Given their situation, it might be easy for them to put the blame on certain people, but that has yet to be the case.
“Who are we to point fingers?" Tighe asked. "I think the only thing we can do right now is fight for our cause and be as positive as we can and be respectful about it, too."
Kuehn expressed a similar perception and agreed that the circumstance is something they, as a team, need to work through together.
“Everyone looks for a dare-to-be-great situation and we’ve been slapped in the face with one," Kuehn said. "This whole situation is bigger than us. We have a chance to do something great. We have a chance to save a program that’s been around since 1927. Not everyone has a chance to be inspirational."
No one knows what will happen going forward for these Temple teams but one thing is for sure, these athletes are determined to make a name for themselves and leave with their heads held high.