LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) – The coronavirus pandemic has impacted everyone, but it has hit especially close to home for the Long Beach Wilson High School football team. Two players lost parents to the virus this year, including one in September.
Now the team is trying to rally together to play for a greater purpose while also coping with the loss of two members of their community.READ MORE: Pelicans Top Clippers Again, 123-104; Valanciunas Scores Career-High 39,
“It started late 2020, on December, 29, going to the hospital and we got no idea it was going to be this bad,” said senior tight end Joshua Scott.
“On January 25, we got to visit him for one day, but he was still sedated so we didn’t get to talk to him really,” said Scott. “And on the 26th we got the call that night that he had passed.”
After his father’s passing, Scott felt that it was an easy decision to keep playing afterwards.
“I knew I wanted to keep playing. I know he [would] want me to,” said Scott. “It’s making sure that I was happy, myself, and that he would happy if he was still here.”
Scott wasn’t alone though, his teammate, Tito Harper, was also struck by tragedy.
“It was the day of my birthday, my mom she’s already sick from COVID, because me, my brother and my mom all had COVID,” said Harper. “She had problems that extended and then she couldn’t breathe or something.”
“It’s difficult, I wasn’t here last spring for Josh, but he had some great coaches and teammates to help him through that. But this fall with Tito, it was tough,” said Meyer. “It was so sad and, and we just tried to, you know, love him and show him the support. [Harper has] some great teammates and some family that were there for him but that’s been a difficult situation for sure.”READ MORE: Chanukah Celebrations Stress Message Of "Light Over Darkness" In Trying Times
Harper spoke about how important football has been for him during this difficult time.
“When it first happened, I [was] like down on it because I haven’t played. It was like three weeks because I was quarantining and then I got COVID,” said Scott. “Now it’s getting better because I have been able to get more active to get in the game and all that, but it’s better now.”
Just like Scott, Harper didn’t hesitate to return to football field once he was available to after contracting the virus.
“Tito wanted to come right back and be with us around his teammates and the coaches,” said Meyer. “He got back with us really quickly and again we just all tried to let him know we’re there for him and anything [he] needed we tried to help him.”
The Woodrow Wilson Bruins are off to a rough 1-7 start to the season, but Scott and Harper have much more to play for than just wins and losses.
Harper believes that sports help him to “let the anger, that you have, out on the field. It’s like therapy.”
Scott agrees and emphasizes the importance of communication within a locker room.
“It’s been very important to find a few friends on the team, to connect with and it’s taught that if you’re going through something to talk to each other,” said Scott.
Despite their losing record, Meyer is proud of the chemistry that his team has built in his first year as Head Coach.MORE NEWS: Authorities Investigating Fatal North Hollywood Shooting On Monday Evening
“Being a part of the team is huge when you have that chemistry,” said Meyer. “You have camaraderie and friendships within the team, so it’s been it’s been helpful for everybody.”