Does Chicago Fire FC forward CJ Sapong miss soccer? Without a doubt.
"I don’t think us as athletes really understand how much we count on our sports to be that outlet for us," he said.
But as much as the Fire forward misses his favorite sport, he misses seeing his mom profoundly more.
"It's hard," Sapong said. "It's one of those things that I'll almost forget how much it's affecting me, and then it'll hit me in the gut and remind me, 'Wow, I don't even know when the next time will be."
Gillian Sapong is an ICU nurse in the family's home state of Virginia. It's a job she's held for more than 25 years, but it's arguably never been more dangerous. Each day Gillian goes to work, she's helping patients fight the coronavirus, and the heightened danger of her job was tough for CJ to accept when the pandemic started.
"At first it was scary, at first it was nerve wracking," Sapong said. "It makes you wonder if it’s worth the risk."
But as time has gone on and CJ has spoken to his mom every day, he's felt more and more comfortable with what she's doing.
"She’s putting herself in that position because she feels she’s – in a sense – chosen for that," said Sapong. "Hearing her say that really allowed me to step back and find a little more calm and a little more honor in the situation."
CJ's mom isn't his only connection to the healthcare industry. His girlfriend, who lives in California, is also a nurse, though she doesn't work directly with coronavirus patients. Still, he feels a deep satisfaction being surrounded by both courageous women.
"I just feel honored to be in both their lives, and to be able to have the two most important women in my life be on the front lives in a whole pandemic – you can’t write these life stories any better than that," Sapong said.