With the coronavirus pandemic wreaking havoc on sports leagues around the world, cultivating that familial bond has been a challenge.
Luckily for Marcina, the entire team decided to stay in the Alamo City and wait out the USL’s ongoing suspension of play. As defender Hunter Gorskie explains, that decision might have been initially difficult, but it is ultimately providing positive dividends.
“Guys wanted to go home, but it was such an uncertain situation," Gorskie said. “We didn’t know what to expect, and I don’t think anybody did. It was a bit surreal, but I’ve got to give our staff here a lot of credit. They were all over it. Obviously, our health was a top priority. We had several presentations made by the Spurs doctors, and they were pretty serious about it. We didn’t want to take any chances. It’s just safer to keep everybody here.”
So, with the team restricted to their homes and a training moratorium put in place by the USL, SAFC has been forced to change their daily routine and adapt to the hand they’ve been dealt. Their solution? Daily, full-team Zoom calls every morning featuring workouts and games.
“For the first couple of weeks, we weren’t doing those Zoom calls, so it was a little more disconnected, but once we got back into it, you could tell that everybody wanted to be around each other and missed the banter," Gorskie said. "The coaches do a really good job of keeping everybody engaged and as a family during this time.”
Without the benefit of the gyms and facilities around Toyota Field, players are predominantly using body-weight exercises with a focus on maintaining fitness.
“It’s a lot of calisthenics," Gorskie explained. "Everyone has balls now. We do some ball work in our apartments and then also resistance band-type stuff. [Our coaches] try to get the intensity pretty high to get the heart rate going. Then there’s also some runs that the guys will go on. For them, it’s a little bit of an exploration every time they go out.”
Gorskie’s routine is slightly more intense. He is one of several players working their way back from injury. In that way, this pandemic has provided additional time to rest, recover and rehabilitate their bodies in preparation for what is likely to be a shortened regular season. But Gorskie has also spent his time pursuing a personal dream of his: entrepreneurship, specifically in the realm of gaming. His most recent venture involves a Danish board game called Partners, which he came across during his time playing for Thisted FC.
“Last year, when I was in Denmark, I played this game, and I couldn’t find it anywhere in the U.S." Gorskie recalled. "I was talking to my teammate and asking him about it. Long story short, he ends up telling me that it’s Denmark’s No. 1 board game. He had been previously contacted by the publishing house because he had given the game a shoutout once upon a time. So, through him, we got in touch with the publishing house, had a great call, really hit it off with those guys, and we agreed to do a deal where I would become the exclusive official distributor for the U.S. and Canada for this game.”
Since that breakthrough moment, Gorskie brought the game with him to San Antonio and introduced it to his teammates on the club’s first preseason road trip.
“I taught them how to play, and they loved it. I told them the backstory, and they were excited about that. They’re awesome. When you talk about a family, they’re all so willing to help me promote it. They want to tell their friends about it. It’s great to have their support in any venture that I, or anybody on the team, is pursuing."
That kind of bond is important to cultivate as San Antonio FC navigates this ongoing crisis. This past week, the USL extended their in-person training moratorium to May 3, so it remains to be seen when they will return to the pitch for game action.
If you would like to learn more about the Partners board game and how to play, please visit partnersboardgame.com.