'Let's take this thing seriously:' Hugh Freeze talks COVID-19 impact on Liberty football

LYNCHBURG, Va. (WDBJ7)-- The first season for Hugh Freeze as head coach of the Liberty football team ended in the program's first bowl game win in its first full-time FBS season.

It started, however, with Freeze in a hospital bed, fighting a serious staph infection that nearly claimed his life.

He said that experience has shaped his outlook on the current COVID-19 outbreak.

"I've heard some say they've tested positive but feel great, but then others are tested positive and it ends their life," Freeze said in a video conference Monday. "I think the health scare that I went through probably gives me more sensitivity to the fact that this could be more serious for a lot of people."

Freeze and the Flames completed five spring practices before the team left for spring break.

Since then, the spring game has been canceled and practice suspended indefinitely.

Player-coach interactions are now limited to position meetings via video conference two hours each week.

"In June, we would be gameplanning for the first three or four games, but now we've kind of flipped that and that's what we're currently doing since we don't have spring ball to get ready for and recruiting," Freeze said. "Obviously one of the biggest hurdles, concerns, that, as I talk to my friends in the coaching business, we all have is just the well-being of our students that are not around us."

Freeze says he knows of 22 players who are still in Lynchburg and that most of them are living off-campus.

He stressed that if the virus isn't taken seriously, the upcoming season could well be in jeopardy.

"Certainly, as much as we all love football and the football season--I think it's a good thing for our nation--but, it certainly is not worth the risk if we don't have a control on this virus," Freeze said. "I think that's why all football coaches are stressing to their players, their fans, their families: let's take this thing seriously so that we can hopefully get back to doing what we all love to do."

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