By Nate Blackford, Mosaic Medical Center – Maryville president

Wow! What a fall it has been for Maryville Spoofhound athletics. Teams have competed for conference, district and state championships, and a number of trophies have been added to the halls of Maryville High School. It’s been so much fun watching these kids and coaches compete, and our community supports them each step of the way. Nothing brings a community together like a common opponent and the pursuit of something greater, like a state championship.

If you were able to watch the Spoofhound football game this past Saturday, it’s a game you likely won’t soon forget. The team had to overcome significant adversity and showed resilience and “togetherness” to win the game in an improbable fashion. Now, the Spoofhounds have an opportunity to compete for another state championship this Saturday.

What many of you don’t know is during their preparation for the game last week, the players and coaches took time to draft “thank you” notes to our caregivers at Mosaic Medical Center – Maryville. Coach Webb delivered more than 50 personalized notes to our team on the front lines of this COVID pandemic last Wednesday morning. The notes communicated heartfelt appreciation for what our team is doing to help keep our community safe during a global pandemic.

These young men went out of their way to say thanks even while preparing for the state semifinals. Impressive.

COVID seems to have taken so much away from us, in nearly every way. Our sense of normal has been rocked. Everyone has been impacted, some in ways I never could have imagined. People are seriously ill, caregivers are tired, students and teachers are having to adapt to new learning styles and leaders are being required to make difficult decisions with incomplete information in uncharted territory.

I’ve witnessed a lot of negativity on social media recently, so I have tried to stay away from it. However, I saw a post from comedian Tim Allen last week in which he summarized his feelings about COVID. I thought it was worth sharing:

Angry for those who’ve died.

Worried for the sick.

Sad for those in fear.

Exhausted by homeschooling.

Hopeful for those not working.

Grateful to those taking care of us.

Missing the Holidays with family.

The enemy is not each other.

Our community has a history of rallying around a common opponent, cheering for (and supporting) those in the game and celebrating together when the opponent is defeated.

As I’ve said from the start, COVID will be a marathon and not a sprint. Our caregivers are tired, but resilient. The past nine months have taken a toll. We have seen firsthand the impact of COVID. We care deeply about this community because, in the end, we are caring for our friends, families and neighbors.

And now, with positive cases and hospitalizations higher than they have ever been, we need your help. The game plan to defeat COVID has always been to find a path to a vaccine. We are getting close. In the meantime, please continue to use the strategies we have available. Although imperfect, please continue to practice social distancing, wear a mask when social distancing is not possible and ensure good hand hygiene.

We need your help, because together we will “beat” COVID. Together we will get back to “normal.” Together. Because we are better together, and always have been.

Go Hounds! Bring home another state championship to Title Town.