HARTLAND — Cam Gonring, the defensive coordinator for Arrowhead Union High School's football team, is described by players as more than just a coach.
"He's someone we can go talk to," said senior quarterback Charlie Smith.
"He's just one of those fun, energetic guys. You're always joking with him," said senior outside linebacker Brayden Arnett.
"He's just there every day with the same energy. He just fun to be around," said junior defensive end Jacob Woida.
Arrowhead Head Coach Matt Harris said Gonring is "just a typical high school football, high school athletic nut. He loves it, he loves everything about it, he loves helping kids."
But, unfortunately, he hasn't been around for most of this season. Seven weeks ago, Gonring contracted COVID-19. He turned 31 at the hospital on Thursday.
According to a GoFundMe page set up by his brother, also an Arrowhead coach, his bout of sickness started with a few days off work and coaching, and turned into a trip to the ER, a hospital stay, and a ventilator.
The seriousness of Gonring's illness has had a big impact on the team. But even without him there on the sidelines, he's still in his players' heads.
"It's kind of hard to accept that he might not come back for the rest of the season," Arnett said. "I'm just kind of thinking about him on the sidelines yelling my name, 'Brayden do your job, do your job!'"
The team is now in the second week of playoffs. And with hope the season will go a few more weeks, there's also hope in Gonring's recovery.
"It sounds like as of this morning, he was starting some rehab," Harris said.
But the road to recovery will likely be long, filled with rehab and outpatient care. So his family set up the fundraising page to help with his medical expenses.
On the GoFundMe page, his family says, "Your continued prayers and positive thoughts can help Cam through this terrible disease, but even the smallest bit of financial help will aid in his recovery."
You can see the fundraiser by following this link.
Gonring's team also wants him to know they're cheering him on as he recovers.
"He's always what we're playing for every single week. We're trying to win for him," Smith said.
"We want him on the sidelines with us, we want him at practice, meetings. We just want him back," Arnett said.
"We're all here for you, keep fighting. There's not a single person you haven't made an impact on," Woida said.