As the COVID-19 pandemic swept across the world and took its toll on the Capital Region almost everything changed. Classes were moved online, jobs were moved into homes, jobs were lost, and travel was also impacted.
For Siena men’s soccer teammates sophomore Greg Monroe and senior Eddie Dakwa the bonds that were created two years ago created an experience that the two will never forget.
Zimbabwe-born and raised in England, Dakwa found himself at a loss as Siena moved its classes online and the dormitories closed.
He needed someplace to stay off-campus, he was worried about his mother, a mental health nurse in England who tested positive for COVID-19, and how to finish his final semester at Siena.
“I wanted to go back [to England], but there was a concern that if I did go back, could I get back here?” Dakwa said.
Dakwa has a job awaiting him as a graduate assistant coach at Spring Hill College in Alabama in July, but even that was placed on hold.
His housing concern was quickly resolved with the help of his teammate.
Monroe was communicating with his parents, who live in Clifton Park, about his teammate’s situation. Dakwa had almost become a second son. The decision was quick and positive.
“I’d love to tell you that it was this sit-down discussion where we were weighing the pros and cons, but it just boiled down to kindness,” Greg’s father, Mark Monroe, said during a phone interview. “I’ve always preached that with my kids. Just try to be kind.
“The option of trying to get home, people are sick there and it was just, ‘You’ve got a place here. You’re welcome here. Don’t worry about it.’
“They have enough to worry about in life than where they are going to put their head down at the end of the day.”
“I wasn’t surprised that they offered,” Dakwa said. “Greg and his parents are great; they have been so welcoming to me and all of our other friends and teammates.”
Dakwa relied on the kindness of the Monroes and then his own beliefs that it would all work out with his mother in England.
“There wasn’t a lot that I could do, and I just knew I had to believe in my faith and pray for her,” Dakwa said. “We made the decision that it was best for me to stay here and have faith that the people that were there taking care of her would do their best.”
According to Dakwa, his mother has recovered, now dealing with fatigue from the virus.
Having Dakwa in the house on a regular basis was also a change for Greg Monroe.
“I have a younger sister, Sarah, and we always got along and played the same sports, but it’s not the same. I kind of always wondered what it would be like if I had a brother growing up and now, I know.”
Now he must deal with the realization that Eddie would be dubbed the ‘favorite brother,’ if it were true when it comes to the food bill for two college athletes.
“Greg can definitely empty the refrigerator, that’s for sure,” Mark Monroe said. “But we just blame it all on Greg. Eddie gets blamed for nothing.”
The two Saint defenders hit it off after Dakwa transferred from Hill College in Texas and Monroe was an entering freshman.
“We had two classes together, so we were always studying together and training together,” Monroe said.
From there, Dakwa was a common presence in the Monroe household during shorter breaks, traveling back to England the past two Christmas breaks.
As the spring semester comes to a close, COVID-19 continues to impact Monroe’s plans.
“I was going to travel to D.C. and continue training and take summer classes at Siena,” Monroe said. “They were all online, so that hasn’t really changed, but my training in D.C. is on hold.”
As New York looks to reopen along with other parts of the United States, the two teammates and housemates will move on.
“We both knew I was going to Alabama, but the distance won’t change anything,” Dakwa said. “We’re so close and the world is so small right now it won’t be hard to stay in touch.”