Movie night in Socorro just took on a new meaning.
In an effort to get his team to find a way to remain close to his student-athletes during COVID-19 quarantine and still remain safe, Warriors wrestling coach Joel Partridge and his fellow coaches constructed an impromptu drive-in movie theater in the parking lot at Fisher Avenue, just off The Plaza on Sunday night.
Like so many coaches and teachers given current circumstance, Partridge is finding creative ways to safely interact with his team.
"I haven't been able to be around my wrestlers for awhile, so I tried to figure out something creative to interact with them, but still stay safe and mind the rules, and do what we're supposed to do,” Partridge said. “But find a way to show them we care and we haven't forgotten about them. We're still all here as one family trying to get through this crazy time together.”
At least a half-dozen cars were in the parking lot watching a Disney movie on a screen that Partridge and his coaching staff constructed not long before the screening, and the message was a clear one: stay safe, but we're still here for you.
“Our interaction is really keeping up with one another. Coach Chris Rottman has been sending out a home workout to all of our wrestlers. It's more trying to keep everybody's spirits up,” Partridge said “We're off-season right now, so this is typically a laid back time for us. Our practices are pretty laid back during this time. Our focus is still the same. It's just more wanting to ensure the kids that we're still here. We're still family. We still want to know how to learn.”
Like many coaches and educators in Socorro County, education is still at the forefront. Partridge said he's still keeping up with his wrestlers and making sure they're doing their schoolwork.
“That's been more the focus than the actual wrestling,” he said.
And Partridge said COVID-19 isn't going to stop he or his team in the coming months.
"The glass is always half full. It's taught us all as a community that the most important things in life are your health and your family,” Partridge said. “We're blessed to be able to play sports, but for us it's so much a part of your life that you find out that there are things out there you've got to focus on beside this. I think it's taught us all a valuable lesson. I think we come out of this as a community stronger.”
How does a program that has boasted three state champions, including two-time champ Tre Partridge, Ian Jordison and Orion Rottman in the past three years continue to find a way to remain physical? Partridge's Warriors are self-motivated, with some help.
“All the parents and the kids are self-motivating people. We communicate with them pretty well, and they're keeping their kids on it. Some things are outside of our control. We want to prepare for wrestling season now like we always do, but it's just different now,” Partridge said. “To me, it's about morale more than it is about physicality. Wrestling is a sport where you need to be able to be on a mat, engaging with a person. But you can do stuff on your own, and that's great and I encourage that. But my kids aren't going to forget how to wrestle. What I don't want them to forget is how much we all care about each other.”