The 45-year-old, who has coached the Hawks since 2013, returned to the team’s summer conditioning workouts Monday after testing negative.
With schools closed for the foreseeable future and the spring football season shut down, Andy Price needed something to occupy his time, and maybe even boost the family income.
At the start of April, Spruce Creek’s 45-year-old coach began picking up shifts at home improvement retail giant Lowe’s, finding items ordered online and loading them into the cars of customers parked curbside.
Strolling the aisles of the 116,000-square-foot store and lifting the occasional heavy item can be moderately taxing, but by lunchtime on July 10, Price felt physically spent.
"I felt like I was out-of-the-ordinary tired," said Price, the Hawks’ winningest coach in program history, with a record of 41-30 through seven seasons. "I had no appetite; I didn’t eat breakfast, didn’t have a cup of coffee, only a bottle of water. And I still felt bloated.
"By midday, I touched my head and it felt like I was running a little bit of a temp. My hips were aching, so were my shoulders, legs and back."
Price cut a scheduled 9-hour shift short and punched out around 2:30 p.m. An hour later, he, his wife and his 9-year-old stepdaughter endured nasal swabs.
Once the weekend passed, they received the test results. All three were positive for COVID-19.
"I figured I was positive and I’m really glad I quarantined as soon as I felt sick," Price said. "I had already reached out to the people that I had contact with before symptoms, so I wasn’t really stressed. Those people didn’t have symptoms, so I was really happy."
Price said he and his family experienced only "mild" symptoms. They have since tested negative, and the coach returned to Spruce Creek’s conditioning workout sessions on Monday after a two-week absence.
At least two other high school football coaches in Florida have revealed their COVID-19 experiences publicly — Cocoa’s Ryan Schneider and Madison County’s Mike Coe.
Price pinpointed three possibilities for how he contracted the coronavirus.
The week before summer conditioning started, Price and his family flew to Phoenix in order to see to the Grand Canyon and visit family in Colorado Springs. Airlines around the country enforce policies for customers to wear masks and undergo temperature screenings in order to halt potential spread.
The flight home required a layover in Charlotte, North Carolina. Takeoff was delayed for nearly 2 hours due to a mechanical problem, and passengers did not deplane, Price said.
Volusia County’s school district allowed high school sports teams to start their summer conditioning programs on July 6. The following week, the district confirmed one Spruce Creek football player tested positive for COVID-19.
Price said the unidentified player was among his designated group of nine athletes, the maximum allowed per coach by the district for individual workout sessions.
A third likely possibility, Price said, is the nearby Brazilian jiu jitsu gym where he trains. Price said the gym made its members aware of multiple positive cases on the same day in which he felt ill.
"It’s the perfect scenario for getting something, when you’re grappling and breathing on people," Price said.
During his family’s quarantine period, Price said he never experienced a fever higher than 100 degrees. Hospitalization was not necessary, and oxygen levels measured normally at all times.
Physical fatigue wore off relatively quickly, but Price still has not regained his senses of taste or smell.
"I lost 9 pounds the first five days just because I didn’t want to eat," Price said. "Even now, we’re eating and not tasting anything. But, we’re negative."
Football season, of course, remains in limbo across the state of Florida. Volusia County programs are still in Phase 1 of the approved conditioning plan, allowing one-hour morning sessions of running and/or body-weight strength training.
Last week, the Florida High School Athletic Association’s board of directors voted to postpone the start of fall sports until Aug. 24 at the earliest. The FHSAA’s Sports Medicine Advisory Committee considers football and girls volleyball higher-risk sports due to the likelihood of respiratory particle transmission between athletes.
The FHSAA’s football coaches advisory committee voted unanimously Wednesday to put forward a plan for a nine-week regular season starting Sept. 11 and state playoff brackets that would include every team that signs up to participate, according to a report in the Orlando Sentinel.
Price believes a football season can happen if the cases trend downward, though a true state series will be nearly impossible to pull off.
"The world’s in a weird place right now," Price said. "At minimum, giving the kids a season and a chance to play is what we should be worrying about. It may take the entire semester to get a 10-game schedule in.
"I think it can be done, but there are going to be a lot of gaps in the season and with the schedules. Two weeks (of quarantine) is great, but you’d better have another one just to get the feeling back. It might be another week until a kid is able to go out there and do much of anything. You lose all your cardio."