It was a heartbreaking start to the year for Wollongong Wolves’ long serving stalwart Chris Price who, along with the thousands of residents down the South Coast, battled the horrific bushfires that ripped through the state which resulted in many losing their homes and lives.
The 34-year-old along with his young family were directly impacted and were lucky that they all came out unscathed on New Years Eve while staying at his parents property – for his mother and father though, it was a gut wrenching site as they lost their entire property.
“We were very lucky that we got out with our lives on New Years Eve.
“We tried so hard to fight the fire, waited until the last minute to leave and found ourselves in a pretty precarious situation.
“My parents had the wreckage on their block cleared only a few weeks ago, so they are now starting the slow process of rebuilding.
“That fire and now COVID-19 has made 2020 a testing year so far.
“But like everyone, I’m sure it has brought us closer together and reminded us that family is the most important thing in life.”
In times of real need you call upon your family and friends for support and Price had just that in the form of Australian Boomers and San Antonio Spurs star Patty Mills.
“My wife knows Patty from their time at the AIS together so that is the connection.
“Patty had just over 5 days off during the NBA All-Star weekend.
“He chose to fly to Australia and travel around to some of the places that had been affected by the bushfires to offer support.
“He was so generous and delivered much needed supplies to assist locals with the recovery process.
“It was great for my wife to catch up with Patty and for him to meet my family.
“He is a true gentleman and brought a smile to many people’s faces during a devastating period.”
With the fires impacting Price, COVID-19 then appeared soon after, throwing more stress on him and his family and his everyday life as a schoolteacher and footballer.
“Personally, it changed the way work operated for me for a time, restricted my interactions with family and friends and of course took away football which left me with more free time in the evenings.
“It has been nice to be able to spend that time with our 18-month-old son, I have really enjoyed that.
“But its given me time for my wife and I to build our own house so that has required a fair bit of my attention.
“I have still been working as a primary teacher during the lockdown albeit under different circumstances.
“Once we were allowed, we also spent time with family which was refreshing as we got to enjoy our parents company especially after what happened on New Years Eve.
“My wife and I have been down the Coast most weekends before the restrictions and since they’ve eased, we’ve been on their farm helping them clean up, building new fences and basically helping mum and dad get back on their feet.”
During the first outbreak of COVID-19 in the state, Price paid a glowing tribute to fellow teammate Nick Littler who battled the virus head on as a registered nurse at the St George Hospital.
“Litts is a quality guy and I think his job really typifies him as a person.
“He has had to put himself and his little family in a tricky situation for all of us.
“It is something we all should not take lightly and be extremely grateful for.
“Not only is he a champion bloke but a quality footballer and we are lucky to have him at the Wolves.”
On the football front, Price has been happy that he along with his Wolves teammates, have been able to train once more after restrictions were recently eased in NSW.
“It was certainly a huge relief for us all.
“Getting to see all the boys and hitting the pitch even in a restricted capacity, has been great.
“We are a tight knit group of guys and being able to get away from the seriousness of the world, enjoy each other’s company and talk a bit of rubbish has been very refreshing.
“I’ve missed the game so much.
“When you play football, it allows you to switch off from the daily grind and put your energy and focus into something you really enjoy.
“Probably the biggest thing I have missed is the comradery amongst the boys and of course nothing beats a winning feeling and having success as a team.”