Students welcome back Douglas softball coach after months-long COVID-19 battle, recovery

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DOUGLAS, Ala.- A heartwarming welcome back for one Marshall County coach.

Douglas softball coach Johnny Champion is now considered a champion after winning a long battle with COVID-19.

Teachers and students at Douglas Elementary School welcomed back one of their favorite coaches, Johnny Champion, Monday morning.

It was his first day back after spending four-months away battling and recovering from the coronavirus.

“I’m very blessed to have went through it and be back to work,” said Champion.

“There are just not words to describe how excited our children have been, how excited our teachers have been, our staff, everyone is just overjoyed to have him back. He’s such an integral part of our faculty and staff. He’s the only male here out of 55 females and he fills that role flawlessly,” explained Assistant Principal Vicky Scott.

Champion told News 19 he was hospitalized for 53 days and was on a ventilator for 12.

He broke down in tears as he recounted the emotional experience.

“Two weeks of my life just gone. I don’t remember anything about it. Just horrible nightmares. I dreamed I passed away and had the funeral and all that was real to me. The things I went through were unreal and if it hadn’t been for the prayers, my doctor thought I wasn’t going to make it,” Champion said as he fought back tears.

He told News 19 that he began recovering after being treated with an experimental medication at the urging of his wife.

Champion added he is happy to be back after months of rehab and be able to see the children and co-workers he considers part of his family.

However, he wants to remind people to take COVID-19 and preventative measures seriously.

“It’s definitely not the flu. It doesn’t act like the flu. Some people are lucky, they don’t have a whole lot of symptoms. It’s real. I think we’re just going to have to deal with it like the flu; it’s here to stay. I know everybody gets tired of wearing masks especially when it’s hot, but everytime you wear the mask you’re saving somebody’s life whether it’s your grandmother, grandfather, mother or daddy and we’ve lost so many lives on account of this and the pandemic,” said Champion.

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