Rochester Adams football coach Tony Patritto 'blessed' to be on mend from COVID-19

David Goricki
The Detroit News

The calendar is set to be flipped to August this weekend with high school coaches from across the state preparing for the first day of practice Aug. 10.

The same can’t be said for longtime successful Rochester Adams head coach Tony Patritto, who is just concentrating on his health after being in ICU at Troy Beaumont Hospital earlier this month after testing positive for COVID-19.

Rochester Adams football coach Tony Patritto with sons Cole (left) and Mark in 2016.

Patritto, 55, tested positive on July 8, after he had trouble breathing. His wife, Shawn, is a registered nurse at Troy Beaumont, where he remained for nearly two weeks before returning home July 21. He feels much better, but his thoughts are on his health and keeping his family safe, not football.

In the past, arguably no one was more excited at the time of year  to get going with camp than Patritto, one of the most dapper and fit coaches on the sidelines, where he usually is wearing a crisp white shirt and tie.

Patritto was happy to be leading Adams’ conditioning and drills earlier this month before having trouble breathing.

“It was pretty bad there for a while,” Patritto said Tuesday morning. “I had trouble breathing, that’s why we went in. It’s unbelievable, actually terrifying. Don’t know how I got it, there’s no rhyme or reason to it. I don’t think anyone knows a lot of anything at this point, to be perfectly candid.

“I’m blessed to be surrounded by so many great people, and I think it’s been an education for everybody about how dangerous and the reality of this. It cannot be minimized. I was perfectly healthy, no underlying conditions. I wore a mask, took every precaution.”

Patritto had high praise for Dr. Sam Allen, his pulmonologist at Troy Beaumont.

“Dr. Sam Allen was instrumental in saving my life,” Patritto said. “I was on the highest possible oxygen support you could get without going to the next level (which is a ventilator). Once I was breathing room air without support, that’s kind of the criteria when you can safely go home. I feel much, much better now.”

So, instead of perusing through the playbook, Shawn is making sure her husband is focused on his recovery.

“My wife is doing a great job of taking care of me and I’m doing everything I’m supposed to recover,” Patritto said. “There’s proning therapies where you’re supposed to lay on your stomach for four hours a day. I’m taking steroids and blood thinners. It’s just gotten so much better.”

Patritto said he felt blessed to be able to coach his boys during the past several years, including Anthony last season. He coached two of his sons back in 2017: Mark, who is now a wide receiver at Central Michigan, and Cole, now a cornerback at Grand Valley State.

When the topic of coaching this season came up, Patritto responded: “At this point I’ve really been focused on my wife and kids and the family and just getting better. I really haven’t processed any of that. It’s not really on my mind, to be honest with you.”

Patritto has an experienced staff, including “my right man from Day 1, Mark MacFarland. We’ve been together forever; he’s our defensive coordinator.”

Patritto also will rely on assistant coaches Scott Sawyer and Josh Heppner to help MacFarland when conditioning continues Aug. 3, since drills were suspended last week when a non-football player in the district tested positive, halting all activities in the district.