By Larissa Johnson and Carmen Esquivel

The boys soccer team gathered outside Mansfield Methodist Medical Center Thursday night to pray for head varsity soccer coach Joey Rodriguez as he fights for his life after contracting COVID-19 last month.

“Playing for coach Rod means everything to me because he’s the best coach that I have ever had,” senior Salvador Najar said. “He pushes me to get better on and off the field.” 

The father of three is currently intubated and on life support in the ICU. He was rushed to the emergency room on Aug. 29 after testing positive for COVID. Several years ago he was diagnosed with an immune system disorder which makes it harder for his body to fight infections. He is vaccinated, his wife Lena Rodriguez told WFAA.

Jaime Vasquez, boys soccer and cross country coach, said he met Rodriguez 10 years ago and the coaching staff encourages the players daily. 

“We gotta continue to do what coach Rod would be asking of them every single day,” he said. “It’s been hard not having him around and in the office working every day. At times it feels like I’m alone, but I gotta make sure I’m doing what he would like me to do with his soccer players.” 

Keller Central coach Brandon Voss and Lena started a GoFundMe page that has garnered over $26,000 in donations for the family.

“Coach Rod was my soccer coach in freshman year,” alumnus Dancell Padilla wrote on the page. “He made me a better version of myself never forgot the lessons I learned in that class. Thank you coach and get well soon.”

Under Rodriguez, the Texans made the playoffs last season, making it 14 straight years. The team advanced to the UIL state tournament in 2015 and 2017.

Larissa Johnson

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