The Baldwin Bruins football team didn’t get to hoist a championship trophy last Friday afternoon. But they did raise something even more important: the spirits of their friends and neighbors.
It might not have felt like a win walking off the field — after starting quarterback Tyler Warner sprinted to the sidelines with his thumb pointing in the wrong direction, and after Farmingdale’s stout ground game paid dividends in the second half — but to the supporters in the stands, the team’s playoff streak, which included wins over Uniondale and Oceanside, provided weeks of positive distraction for people in pain.
Some of the fans in the stands during last week’s 21-9 loss spent much of the last month worrying about flooded homes, molding possessions and even where to sleep. So watching a football game — even a loss — was a pretty enticing proposition. Friday was a perfect day for football. It was cool, but sunny. Some of the burly Bruins coaches even wore shorts on the sidelines. The atmosphere in the Hofstra bleachers was convivial, as fans wearing sunglasses and warm winter caps took in the game.
“Football transcends sports,” philosophized B.A. Schoen, a prominent Baldwin resident who lost a boat to the hurricane. “There’s no question. You have the cheerleaders, the fans, the bands, big attendance. People who don’t care about sports at all can enjoy a football game. It’s pure pleasure.”
Sitting not far from Schoen were Mary Jo O’Hagan, a school board trustee, and Joe Scannell, 5th District county legislator. Both agreed that the team’s run had buoyed spirits in Baldwin. “It’s been hugely important to the spirit of the community,” O’Hagan said.
Scannell added, “It’s been an amazing lift at one of the worst times in our history.”