As a young, healthy 25-year-old, former Bates College All-American lacrosse player Jack Allard’s struggle against COVID-19 has caught the attention of national broadcast and print news outlets.

Allard’s friends are hoping his story will help others take the virus more seriously.

Allard, who graduated from Bates in 2016 and was a two-time All-American attack, was transferred to the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia on Wednesday. His family said Wednesday afternoon that he was showing improvement and doctors were hopeful Allard could start receiving Remdesivir, an experimental drug currently in a clinical trial for the treatment of COVID-19.

The Ridgewood, New Jersey native’s story has been featured in the New York Times, Fox News Network and other national outlets. It has also resonated throughout the lacrosse community, according to Allard’s coach at Bates, Peter Lasagna, and with Lasagna’s current players.

Lasagna has been in close contact with Allard’s family throughout the ordeal. He said he was initially hesitant to share the news with those outside the Bates community out of respect for the Allards’ privacy. After talking with the family and his current captains, however, it was evident that Allard’s story could change attitudes about who the virus affects.

“It shows this is real and not something that just strikes and is potentially fatal for those that are old or have pre-existing conditions,” Lasagna said.

Will Holland, one of Bates’ senior tri-captains this season, grew up in Edgewood and also attended the same high school four years behind Allard. He knew the story of Allard’s plight would not only resonate in his hometown but with other young people.

“He was just an unbelievable lacrosse player,” Holland said. “And he’s just one of the nicest, one of the most genuine and most personable guys.”

“It was tough news (about his illness), but it was also so telling,” Holland said. “Here you have this really healthy,  really respected member of the Bates lacrosse family, and he’s battling for his life, which went against the narrative.”

Lasagna said Holland convinced him they could help counter the narrative by helping to bring his story to light and bring the Bates lacrosse team and the larger lacrosse community together at an important time.

The Bobcats played their sixth and final game of the season March 10. On March 11, Bates College announced it was canceling the rest of its spring sports season in response to the pandemic. Two days later, the school announced that it was closing the campus and sending students home for the semester due to coronavirus concerns.

“And we had no idea when or if we were going to see each other again,” Lasagna said.

“It was hard dealing with it all suddenly coming to a halt,” said Holland, who is home in New Jersey and resumed remote learning via the internet with his fellow Bates students on Monday. “We (he and co-captains Matt Chlastawa and Curtis Knapton) were really looking forward to competing in our senior seasons and completing our academic years and graduating. But Jack’s illness really placed it in a comparative context that there are people our age who are really, really sick with this.”

“The news about Jack sort of cut through all of the pain and anger and frustration and provided the proper perspective that it should provide,” Lasagna said.

Although few know Allard as Holland and Lasagna do, he has continued to follow the program closely and was someone current players had seen at games and met, Lasagna said.

“Jack is that type of alum that comes back every year for the alumni games and for summer lacrosse,” he said.

As word spread of Allard’s condition, Lasagna, who has coached at Bates for 20 years, started hearing from former players he hadn’t had contact with in years, while others who he has kept in touch with via text or email have called to have more extensive conversations. Allard’s former teammates have connected via social media to comfort each other, and the college lacrosse community at large has reached out to express support for Allard and the Bobcats, Lasagna said.

“Guys have reached out to me from all over the country and they’re all connecting with each other,” he said. “I think for a lot of them, it’s a lot like what being on a team is, being connected to something that’s bigger than you, and the fact that we all have something to be connected about and rally around and devote our energy to.”

Lasagna described Allard as a “tenacious, hard-working and passionate” lacrosse player who drove himself to develop remarkable stick skills and get the most out of his ability.

“We’re all praying every day that the same traits will help him pull through this,” he said.

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