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With both parents in ICU with coronavirus — Rose Hill lineman plays final high school football game

KSN Digital Extra

ROSE HILL, Kan. (KSNW) – Rose Hill lineman Tristan Calef set a goal for himself in 2020 — to play his entire senior football season.

“Tristan is a guy who has struggled through some injuries,” said Rose Hill head football coach Lee Weber. “The last two years he wasn’t able to complete the season. He desperately wanted to finish out the season.” 

Amid the coronavirus pandemic, this goal would be easier said than done.

“It’s been the most difficult year I’ve had,” said Weber. “It’s my 20th year as head coach. I’ve never had this much stress and uncertainty.”

The night before playing in his final high school football game, Calef didn’t sleep in his own bed.

“He’s not at home because nobody else is at home,” said Weber.

After both of his parents tested positive for COVID-19, it was a sacrifice he would be willing to make in order to avoid a potential quarantine.

“COVID is a concern for all of us. Quarantines have definitely affected our team throughout the year,” said Weber. “To be safe, he stayed at our other players’ house.”

By Friday, both of his parents were admitted into the ICU.

“It’s been kind of a whirlwind for all of them,” said Jen Pember, a family friend.

When Calef got off the field, he would receive the devastating news.

“They had waited to say anything to Tristan with him playing in that Friday night game,” said Pember.

Tristan Calef said the news was hard to bear, he wanted to quickly rush to the hospital to be by his dad’s side, but his mom told him to come home, that’s when she too had to be admitted to the hospital.

“I kind of had a weird feeling that something wasn’t right, once coach told me, it was devastating, it really was and I just grabbed my helmet and I took off running to the locker room,” said Calef.

Calef learned his younger brother, who’s a fourth-grader, also tested positive for the novel virus, but he’s asymptomatic.

On Monday, Calef would return to school while his parents continued their recovery.

“He’s a tough guy, he’ll never show that he’s struggling, but he knows we’re all our here for him,” said teammate, Dalton Dockers. “Always.”

While Calef’s high school football career may be over, his team isn’t going anywhere.

“We’re not done with them when the season ends,” said Weber. “We’re there for them, the rest of their lives. I’m always going to be his football coach.”

The Rose Hill community was eager to give back to the Calef family in a time of need.

“They are the kind of people that will give you the kind of shirt off their back,” said Pember. “Any time our friends or the community needs anything, they’re always the first to help you out, they’re always available, no questions asked.”

The giving spirit is native to the small town.

“I think it’s a good life lesson for our kids, to be giving and to help,” said Weber. “We try to promote that within our program, and it’s good to see that our community has those values to help those in need.”

For Tristan Calef, he said this experience was eye opening.

“I really didn’t take it seriously at first, when I went into stores I wouldn’t wear a mask and I went about my daily life even though it was a world pandemic and now that both of my parents are in the hospital because of it, I really started wearing a mask all the time,” said Calef. “I actually self-distance myself from people, and I’m just taking it a whole lot serious, I don’t want this to happen to anyone else because it’s been really rough.”

Calef said his dad is doing much better and will be able to return home in the coming days and his mom’s oxygen levels are improving daily.

A fundraising page has been created to help support the Calef family. You can donate here.

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