Joel’s Story

For as long as I can remember, I’ve been involved with, or around sports and being active. I’ve experienced some of my fondest memories on an athletic field, whether that be as a player, official, coach, or spectator. However, athletics have also caused me much physical pain—pain that still lingers on my knees today, more than a decade since I played my last snap of college football. Concussions have led to post concussion syndrome (and what a neurologist attributes my migraine headaches to). I’ve had knee surgeries, broken ankles, and lingering neck pain. But I wouldn’t change a thing. 

I told you all of that to explain my story of my recent bout with COVID. On December 11, my wife was diagnosed with COVID. Her symptoms included severe congestion, body aches, loss of taste and smell, and headaches. Her congestion would be so bad that she wouldn’t be able to catch her breath. 

Three days later, during the overnight hours I was woken with the worst body aches I’ve ever experienced. Everything hurt. To change positions to try to get comfortable was a major challenge. The next day I tested positive for COVID. My symptoms (from most to least severe) were body aches, fatigue, chills/sweats, congestion and headache. Words truly can not describe the body aches I experienced.

As I mentioned, I played sports my whole life, and a task as simple as walking upstairs felt like the end of two-a-day football camp practices. I remember brushing my teeth one morning, and my arm feeling like I had just got done with a workout. When people say, ‘everything hurts’, it’s no exaggeration. It hurt to walk. It hurt to stand in the shower. I was completely ‘zapped’ of any energy. 

The worst part was that I couldn’t play with my sons like I wanted. That part broke me. My youngest wanted to play a board game, and I physically couldn’t do it. 

Through our struggle with COVID, my (and my wife’s) case was still considered mild. We didn’t need to be admitted, or even go to the hospital. I urge everyone to please take this seriously. No one enjoys wearing masks. No one enjoys not seeing people regularly. No one enjoys ‘zooming’ to hang out with friends and family.

I’d much rather have an in-person coaches’ meeting. I’d love to be able to work face-to-face with our student athletes. But we’re doing Zoom meetings for safety—our safety, and yours. 

When you wear a mask at a store, the life you could be saving is mine, or your grandparents’, or your neighbor’s.

To our student athletes in the Trojans football program: we understand that this is shaping up to be another difficult off-season. Speaking on behalf of all the other coaches, please know that we answer your call day and night. To talk football, grades, or if you just need to vent.

To everyone: please, wear a mask.

-Joel H.
Offensive Coordinator, Greater Johnstown