FRISCO, Texas – Often times, the world in which we live in can be a cruel one. For North Texas SC and Eric Quill, March 23 was supposed to be an important day in the beginning of another special season. The upcoming weekend would bring the first match of the 2020 campaign and kick off the club’s first title defense.
Due to the spread of COVID-19, though, Quill and his squad instead find themselves in a holding pattern, uncertain of when they will see a return to action. It isn’t easy, but the staff are now tasked with guiding their players through this surreal period away from the beautiful game.
“As far as the staff [is concerned], I think we’ve been seeing it – the first sort of cutoff curfews. I think that none of us are shocked it got pushed back,” Quill said in regard to the league’s ongoing moratorium. “It’s obviously not ideal the longer this goes because, first of all, people are antsy, second of all, we’re sending workout and guys are doing them but it’s not the same as match minutes.”
So, what do you do when your livelihood is suddenly put on hold? For Quill and his staff, the most important thing is spreading positivity around the club.
“The bottom line is, we can’t control any of this … We just have to take it in stride, be flexible, adapt and be open to the fact that one day, we are going to get back together,” Quill said. “That’s the biggest thing. It is very easy to become negative and critical, but it just doesn’t serve any purpose.”
As the coaches and players keep in constant contact through texts and phone calls, Quill is focused on keeping the morale high. Ultimately, soccer will return, and his team needs to be ready for it.
“It is time for [the players] – and I’ve challenged them – to take ownership of this moment with their bodies and their ability to be ready once this thing is called off,” Quill said. “There can’t be this massive gap between one guy and the next because one guy was doing what he was supposed to and the other wasn’t. [The players] need to understand that we’re working towards a team goal in the end and this is just a roadblock that we have to get through.”
Another potential roadblock comes with Dallas County’s recent order to shelter in place. For a number of players on North Texas SC who stay in apartments, this could significantly complicate things.
“We have a meeting tomorrow – a second team meeting – that will discuss that in particular. That’s really just going to have to be their creativity. If they have a backyard, that’s the most ideal, but some of these guys are in apartments,” Quill said. “We’ve just got to talk about the actual restrictions that they are going to be under. If it means running their stairwell inside their apartment complex – or some area of space in which they can get their heart rate up – that is going to be important.”
All involved will be hoping the end comes sooner rather than later, but for the time being, Quill and his players will simply need to hold themselves accountable.
“We’re trying to find the happy medium between spending time with our families and trying to engage ourselves in what our passions are. It’s definitely hard with each day, especially not knowing where the end is,” he said. “For me, exercise is huge to get my mind right and keep the anxiety levels low. I have to get out and run. I live in Dallas County, so I don’t know what that looks like now.”