Chris Seitz, his wife, Kate, and their five children Credit: Family Photo

For Chris Seitz and his wife, Kate, their days are so overflowing with activity that they actually need to get started the night before.

During the coronavirus outbreak, Seitz is at home in Northern Virginia with Kate and their five children, who range from eight months to seven. Seitz is juggling being a father, a husband to a wife who is working from home, and trying to maintain his fitness as a professional athlete while rehabbing from a torn quadriceps. Planning ahead is a must.

“We talk about it at night, what we want to do for the next day and what we want to accomplish and then go from there,” Seitz, a D.C. United goalkeeper, tells City Paper. “It definitely changes routines … It’s challenging my wife and I in a lot of ways and it will hopefully just make us stronger.”

Those routines, ones that were so baked into Chris and Kate’s life, have been turned upside down. For their oldest, seven-year-old Deklyn, there is a program to follow from her elementary school. For the others, there is decidedly less structure available.

“We don’t have anything for them,” Seitz says. “There’s a big nine-hour window in there that is not occupied with daily activities they were used to. So we’re coming up with stuff and trying to do our homework to figure out what we can get them to do.”

Seitz adds that he’s trying to get outside as much as possible, taking almost-daily walks with his family and spending time in the backyard during the afternoon. Then comes dinner, bath time, and bed. Then, and only then, can Seitz do what he needs for himself. 

“I do all my rehab and workouts at night, so that usually starts at 8:30 and I’m up until 10:30 doing all my stuff,” he explains.

If there wasn’t enough already on his plate in terms of his soccer career and his childrens’ education, Seitz is also in the process of furthering his own education. The 33-year-old is taking classes for his MBA program.

It’s a balancing act that can leave Seitz, like many other people, feeling overwhelmed at times. 

“It’s definitely challenged me mentally and challenged me to the point where I do have to leave the room sometimes and take a deep breath and figure out what I’m doing,” Seitz says.

Normally, Seitz has the refuge of the playing field and the locker room to provide a contrast to his family life. With those outlets unavailable, D.C. United’s players and staff are doing the best they can to stay connected.

There is a weekly Zoom chat with every player on the roster, the coaching staff, and the training staff. It’s a chance for fitness checkups, but more than anything, it allows the team to see how players are holding up mentally.

“During this time our physical health is taking a back seat to our mental health,” Seitz says.

Maintaining camaraderie is an admirable, if fleeting goal of the team Zoom chats.

“We try to build a little chemistry, we try to build a little culture and continue that team bonding but it’s difficult,” head coach Ben Olsen said in a conference call last week. “How do you do it over Zoom with 30 guys on there? It’s a difficult challenge.”

To further bolster their ties, United’s players maintain an active WhatsApp chat where they discuss their routines and ways they can help the local community, such as the team’s recent fundraiser for the local non-profit Martha’s Table.

“That was a complete player initiative that basically came out of our conversations within our WhatsApp group to try and figure out ways we can help,” Seitz says of the fundraiser.

The Zoom chats and WhatsApp group provide an outlet for Seitz, but he it’s not a substitute for the real thing.

“I had the escape of going to the locker room every day and being with the boys and working and blowing off a lot of energy and a lot of steam there,” Seitz says. “I was able to compartmentalize my soccer life and my family life. Currently it’s all intertwined. I’m trying to find time to do my soccer stuff while being the best possible dad and the best possible teacher to my kids throughout all this.”

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