Grace men's soccer coach Arron Patrick tries to instill the value of family into his team.
With 18 international players on the roster, along with Patrick being from England, the COVID-19 pandemic has affected many players' ability to go home to their families and left the team striving to do more.
“I was out on a run last Wednesday and I called my assistants and asked what we can do,” Patrick said in a phone interview Tuesday. “No one from our team has been affected, but it has impacted one of our players. He's from Italy, one of his family members died from it.
“We came up with this idea, 'Why don't we run?' The guys are running anyway. It started with 24 hours, I thought that we can do more than that.”
Starting noon today, the team will run for 48 straight hours (or more).
Each member of the team has signed up for time slots in 20-minute increments and will take over the team's Instagram account to talk about whatever they want.
“We're going to go more than 48 hours if it takes off,” Patrick said. “There's no real mileage goal. The main goal is to raise support. The guys can share their stories, why they're doing it, share uplifting stories, make a joke and make someone laugh.”
The team's GoFundMe page has a goal of $10,000 that will be divvied out to the Community Foundation of Elkhart County Response Fund, the Warsaw Salvation Army and IMA World Health.
“We decided we wanted to help organizations in the United States but also with international players on the team, we wanted to help organizations that their focus is helping different countries,” said forward Marcelo Talamas, who's from Mexico. “We have people from New Zealand, Italy, Brazil, Mexico, Trinidad and Tobago and a lot of other countries. We can reach a lot more people.”
Talamas and other international players remained in Warsaw at their off-campus house while others were able to go home. Everyone will have a different perspective, which is part of what makes the effort unique.
“The guys that we've got, the guy in Italy is not home, his family didn't want him to go home so he's here with us,” Patrick said. “The guys in England, they're fine to go out and exercise, and obviously they're exercising the precautions. That's what makes it unique, it's their own perspective on running and why they're doing it. It'll be rolling on their phones as they go.”
During this time, as well, Patrick is encouraging his players to spend quality time with those close to them.
Midfielder Mitch Strawser was due to spend the summer in Chicago but returned to Grand Rapids, Michigan, after the campus closed.
“Both my parents played soccer so we've been playing a lot of soccer tennis,” he said. “My mother's also a personal trainer so we've had workout sessions.”
He intends to use his time slot to allow people to get to know him better.
“Personally, I'm really into music. I'm going to talk about that a little bit, show people what I'm into,” he said.
“I also want to show people around my town since no one else on the team is from where I am.”
Strawser admitted that he doesn't like running for long stretches, but with this providing the proper motivation, he's excited for the opportunity to share his story, his hometown, and share in the effort to help those impacted by COVID-19.
“Whenever you know someone who's been affected by it, it opens your eyes,” he said. “A lot of times, people don't think it can happen to them, I'm victim of that. Knowing someone affected by it kind of puts it into perspective.”
The team's Instagram account is @Grace__Soccer (two underscores). The GoFundMe page can be found at GoFundMe.com/f/48-hour-run-against-covid19.