CORONAVIRUS CHRONICLES: A COLLEGE STUDENT-ATHLETE SAYS ‘WE’RE IN THIS TOGETHER’

ASHLEY FLORES WRITES – Fear, anxiety, depression, and uncertainty are four words that many of us in the world are feeling right now. Don’t be fooled, though; this is also a time of love, cheer, warmth and mindfulness. 

Here’s how it all came down for me:

February 3rd 2020, I’m trying to figure out how to scroll through my social media accounts to be updated on any sort of global or local news without cutting myself on my cracked iPhone. Typically, Kobe Bryant is trending, Justin Bieber’s new Youtube Series is trending, Major League Soccer’s 25th season is trending, but then some video on Twitter surfaces out of Wuhan, China, about a virus, called “coronavirus,” which has spread over the last few weeks. A new, temporary but  fully running hospital has been constructed in the last 10 days to help those in need. My mouth opens in shock, but if anyone could build a hospital in 10 days, it would DEFINITELY be the dedicated and hard-working people of China. Funny enough, I don’t know if we Americans would be able to accomplish that. 

“Ashley, why don’t you tell us a little bit about what your group discussed on last night’s reading?” asks my hopeful and enthusiastic Political Science professor, Whitney Hannes. I hide my phone by placing my arm over it, as if I’m reaching to touch the chair in front of me. Thankfully, I read last night and had just discussed with my group the “great” British philosopher John Locke, on his theories of religious toleration. 12:50pm, class over, I leave class and think about how far and fast I have to walk across campus to make it to my 1pm class. I don’t have the newest airpods that everyone’s obsessed about, so I place my old pink headphones on and walk to class thinking too much about what I have to get done. 

February 5th, 2020. Like many student athletes, opening my eyes at the crack of dawn to get training in, is sometimes the most difficult thing to do. I’m shortly reminded that my friends are doing the same thing, so I turn off my 3rd alarm and go for a run.  I see Keith and Jill (my athletic trainers) as I walk into the training room for another physical therapy session. Keith is bumping music yet again, and as I walk in Brian makes a basketball crossover move as I try to defend the “basket” (the top of the door frame). We listen to some “West End Girls” by the classic Pet Shop Boys while I finish up another set of single leg RDL’s (a hip hinge movement to help me strengthen my hamstrings). I tip over (something you’re not supposed to do) while Keith laughs and jokingly yells “HAHA, this kid! Can I exchange her? Is she returnable?” We laugh, end our physical therapy session and I move on to the weightroom with our strength coach, Jordan. Jordan cheers me and my teammates on yet again “ There you go RAINAAA!”, “Lets go Max!” OKAY Joe, I see you!” “Great Job Ashley!”- all while listening, lifting, and dancing to our favorite playlist of the season, “ Big Booty Mix”. (A playlist that is PG-13).  

Then I pick up my phone and see another video on twitter, with people in Hong Kong panic buying toilet paper, scrambling for food and other necessities. I put down my phone, figuring this kind of thing would never affect me. I run to my next class before my professor marks me absent for being late.

March 6th, 2020, Spring Break is here and like every other college student, I am utterly excited to not be in school, to not think about any kind of assignments, to  just run and go to my part-time gig at LA Galaxy or maybe go to Cabo for the week. Another sunny morning in Los Angeles as I gasp for air while I run, with no worry about any assignment due for any class. “Ok, Google, give me my morning news,” I yell at my Google Home across the kitchen while settling into my living room. Something about the Coronavirus spreading, a cruise ship from California with about 20 people infected and the president of the U.S’ credibility being questioned again about his response. Whatever.

If you live in Los Angeles or in any city I guess, you know how much traffic SUCKS. I sit in my car listening to a podcast by Logan Paul on my way to work at Galaxy. Some driver next to me is putting on makeup as we wait for the next car to move. I park, then open the door to the office to a “Hellllooooo” (in a soft tone), from Maren (a woman with many respectable responsibilities who is, I think in some ways, in charge of me) as she turns her chair to me- kind of like we were in a movie and she had been waiting to give me my new FBI mission adventure. Things going on as usual.  

March 16th 2020, is not what I expected .Every possible event you can think of is cancelled. School is shutting down. I give a warm hug to Holly (a sweet, coffee-loving redheaded teammate of mine), Joe (a tall, tan, funny, pretty cool friend/teammate who I’ve known since high school), and Simeon (another tall friend/teammate – or it may be the fact that I am 5’2 and everyone is taller) as we go our separate ways. I elbow salute (since we can’t hug or shake hands)  my three excellent coaches, Chloe ( a pretty cool ginger “woman”), Scott (a sarcastic or serious, pretty caring white guy from the South) and Zarb (a US veteran, thin, a push your buttons type of guy). I drive away from the main campus of Loyola Marymount University, finding no traffic and not a single soul walking the streets of East LA. Back home.

Finally, the Coronavirus has come to LA! Stores are out of toilet paper, baby wipes, and water. People are hogging toilet paper as if they were about to be locked in basements for the next year and didn’t have an old t-shirt lying around to wipe themselves. 

And, like my  friends, I have been sent home as our Spring Semester has been moved to this new online group facetime-like website, Zoom. Looks like we all go to Zoom University now, huh?  I’m at home, painting a yellow chicken and a white egg for recreation/distraction, a blanket wrapped around my legs, crying over the phone with Carla (a first-generation student like me-yes, that’s right, the first in our families to graduate from college), hoping our commencement ceremony will come later this year. You know it’s serious when I paint. I’m not an artistic or indoors type of gal. It’s raining and it’s times like this when one realizes that sitting in traffic doesn’t sound so bad. Gasping for air with your teammates, scrambling for the things you need to get done, or going to class and listening to another long lecture,  don’t sound too bad right about now, right?

Everyone in the world is embarking on this new, temporary way of life. Hopefully you’re inside with your family-your wife, your mom, your dog, your dad, maybe your cousins or grandmothers, I honestly don’t know, but at least, I hope, maybe you’re with someone. 

Wait a minute! This experience can be kind of fun, isn’t it? A time to be together, support one another, play some Jenga, fix your lightbulb, learn how to bake. As you can tell, I’m not huge on reading. I’m more into videos, but I do recommend reading a book. 

Live like it’s snowing outside-something I wasn’t able to get used to when  I lived in the cold Midwest, by the way. Go for a walk, a run, or do a new modified workout in your living room with your family. It’s better doing it together than alone, trust me. 

We’re in this together, you are not alone.


Ashley Flores is a Contributing Editor for Asia Media International.

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One Reply to “CORONAVIRUS CHRONICLES: A COLLEGE STUDENT-ATHLETE SAYS ‘WE’RE IN THIS TOGETHER’”

  1. So proud of you amiga mia! I am so grateful meeting you on orientation day someone who related with me in so many ways, first-gen, commuter student (1.5-2 hour commute).

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