Jack Allard: COVID-19 'Took Me to My Knees,' Grateful for Lacrosse Family

Jack Allard likened it to a long nap.

He fell asleep in one hospital bed in New Jersey and woke up in another in Philadelphia.

The normally clean-shaven 26-year-old had a thick ginger beard and a tube penetrating his neck, the other end of it attached to a ventilator.

Twenty days had passed. Allard had no idea he had gone viral — literally and figuratively.

“I always thought my next US Lacrosse Magazine interview would be about the D-III guy that went pro,” he said Tuesday from the comfort of his family’s home in Ridgewood, N.J. “Instead, it’s about this insane virus going around.”

“I always thought my next US Lacrosse Magazine interview would be about the D-III guy that went pro. Instead, it’s about this insane virus going around.”

A former two-time All-American attackman at Bates College and one of the most prolific scorers in the school’s history, Allard did not fit the profile of a high-risk coronavirus patient. He was young and virile, never smoked or vaped and had no underlying health conditions.

Working as a business control associate at Bank of America in Manhattan, Allard felt fatigued when he took the train home to Metuchen, N.J., where he lives with his girlfriend, on Friday, March 13. The next morning, he woke up with a fever and back pain. His condition worsened that weekend.

Fearing he had a kidney infection, Allard checked into JFK Medical Center in Edison, N.J, on March 16. Two days later, he was moved to the intensive care unit because his oxygen levels had plummeted.

Allard had not yet tested positive for COVID-19. The lab lost his sample, the family told local and national media outlets. By the time a second lab confirmed Allard’s diagnosis, he was in a medically induced coma and intubated. It was the only way doctors could manage his severe symptoms.

He went under March 18. He awoke April 7. In between, he became one of the most visible examples of the pandemic’s undiscerning reach, a cautionary tale for would-be spring breakers and social distance deniers.

“That’s the moral of this whole thing: We need to listen to our scientists and our doctors when they give us warnings and give us guidance,” Allard said. “People my age think it’s not going to hit them and, if it does, it’s going to be a slight flu. That’s clearly not true. It took me to my knees.”

Allard also became a symbol of hope. His mother, Genny, and a local congressman, Rep. Josh Gottheimer, fought to get him approved for a clinical trial of the antiviral medication remdesivir. On March 24, Allard was airlifted to the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania in West Philadelphia, where trials were being conducted.

Although it is not known if he received the experimental drug — some COVID-19 trials include a control group of patients who do not receive remdesivir — Allard’s condition improved drastically. His lungs and liver functions stabilized. Early last week, Allard came off the ventilator to occasionally breathe on his own and drink sips of water. He overheard doctors and nurses saying it was a miracle he emerged from the coma and recovered as quickly as he did. Soon enough, they removed the tube and started physical therapy to rebuild the muscle mass he had lost in his legs while immobilized.

Last Friday, wearing a Bates sweatshirt, Allard walked out of the hospital as healthcare workers in surgical masks and gowns applauded.

“They took a video of me, which totally went viral,” said Allard, referring to the grainy cell phone footage that as of Tuesday had amassed more than 71,000 views on Twitter between posts by US Lacrosse Magazine, Ridgewood High School boys’ lacrosse and Paul Rabil. “I’ve never gone viral before.”

Hoping to restore some privacy to his family’s life, Allard said he has ignored most requests for interviews. But the support he received from the lacrosse community compelled him to answer this one.

Bates coach Peter Lasagna and Ridgewood coach Mike Pounds were in constant contact with the Allard family during Jack’s monthlong battle. Parents of his former teammates banded together to provide meals for the ICU doctors and nurses treating him. Archers LC of the Premier Lacrosse League sent him a video encouraging him to get better so that the team could host him on the sideline of a game this season.

“The lacrosse world is amazing,” Allard said.

Allard’s own lacrosse journey started in first grade. It was a family affair. His father, Andy, played lacrosse at Princeton in the early 1980s and was his first coach with the Ridgewood Lacrosse Association, part of the North Jersey Junior Lacrosse League. His sister, Katie, also played lacrosse at Bates, graduating last year. His uncle, Bill Mulderig, played lacrosse at Holy Cross and coaches his four sons in a youth league in Longmeadow, Mass.

Allard was a midfielder in high school, but he lingered most of the time around the crease. Lasagna characterized him as “a slight 5-foot-9 wizard with a stick” in an interview with US Lacrosse Magazine last month. Bates needed a lefty finisher to round out its attack. Allard fit the bill.

In addition to Allard’s finishing ability, Lasagna noticed the leadership quality you often find in coaches’ sons. Allard helped lead a transformation at Bates. Once an afterthought in the mighty NESCAC, the Bobcats defeated then-defending NCAA Division III champion and No. 1-ranked Tufts in 2015. Allard scored four goals in the victory, which ended the Jumbos’ 24-game winning streak and propelled Bates to its best season in 28 years and first-ever NCAA tournament appearance. Two years later, after Allard had graduated, Bates rose to No. 1 in the national rankings.

“It’s times like these when all those things you look for when recruiting — toughness, resiliency, togetherness — and someone you care about so deeply is in an induced coma, that they can summon those qualities,” Lasagna said. “If there’s anyone who achieved great things because of single-minded resolve and purpose, it’s him. I hope those same traits guide him now.”

Allard did, in fact, credit his lacrosse background for playing a role in his recovery. How else could his lungs endure weeks of virulent attacks on his system? Allard especially channeled his inner athlete during the 10 days he spent in the hospital after awakening from his coma.

“The first thought in my mind was, ‘How do I get home now?’ I want to recover fast so I can get back to my normal life. As a lacrosse player, you know that you don’t just get up for a game and play without having practiced and studied film beforehand. You know it’s going to take time,”  he said. “When the physical therapist came in to help me walk again, I definitely felt the athlete mentality come back. Your legs don’t do what you want them to, but you put your head down, force yourself to stand up, take a couple of steps and the next day take a few more steps. Suddenly, you’re walking around the ICU.”


Allard has since learned that several of his colleagues at Bank of America also have COVID-19. None of them have symptoms nearly as severe as his.

“I don’t know why I had such a bad reaction to it,” he said.

Allard lavished praise on his caregivers at JFK for keeping him alive and at Penn for accelerating his recovery. “The one thing I want to make clear is I wouldn’t be here without the help of those nurses, doctors and physician assistants,” he said.

Allard was discharged April 17, one month and one day after he was admitted. They swabbed him twice before he left the hospital to confirm there were no longer any traces of COVID-19. Both tests came back negative. He also received a blood test ensuring he now had the antibodies to fight the coronavirus.

He’s keeping the beard for now. He considers it a battle scar. He also expects the tracheotomy wound in his neck to heal fully within two weeks. That scar will be with him forever.

More than 45,000 people in the U.S. have died of COVID-19. Nearly one-third of the fatalities have occurred in New York. Allard knows how close he came to being one of them, as does his mother, who after weeks in the public eye is looking forward to a quieter, more normal life.

“The lacrosse community is like family,” Genny Allard said in an email. “We are overwhelmed by the outpouring of prayers, love and support. We know we are blessed that Jack came home and we owe it all to his medical teams who fought fiercely to save him.”

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