Nebraska coach Fred Hoiberg, with history of heart issues, was 'a little scared' during COVID-19 bout

Ryan Young
·Writer
·3 min read

Nebraska men’s basketball coach Fred Hoiberg is one of several in the sport who have contracted, and since beaten, COVID-19 already this season.

Yet given his medical history — Hoiberg was born with an abnormal aortic valve, has had two open heart surgeries and has a pacemaker — he was nervous.

“I got a little scared, to be honest with you, just with everything I’ve had in my past with two open heart surgeries and being fully dependent on a pacemaker,” Hoiberg said, via the Associated Press. “It concerned me. And I did have chest pains. That was the scary thing.”

Hoiberg: ‘It felt like a truck hit me’

Nebraska suspended team activities on Jan. 11 and was sidelined for about three weeks due to a massive coronavirus outbreak within the program. In all, nine players and three coaches tested positive.

Hoiberg, 48, said he started experiencing symptoms on Jan. 15. He would wake up in the middle of the night with chills, a headache, a sore throat and body aches. He didn’t get his smell back until Sunday and lost about 10 pounds.

“I gradually got better, but then it kind of became a roller coaster — and for anybody who’s had it, they can understand what I’m talking about,” Hoiberg said, via the Omaha World Herald. “You wake up, I actually felt pretty good in the mornings, and all of the sudden midday it’d just felt like a truck hit me.

“Then you just battle fatigue, and I’m still battling fatigue. That’s the one symptom that I have left.”

Nebraska will have a busy finish

With the season winding down fast, Hoiberg knows the team will have a lot on its hands over the next month.

Nebraska is currently at the bottom of the Big Ten standings and still searching for its first conference win. The Huskers, though, have only played 12 total games.

In order to make up for the five games that they lost during the shutdown, Hoiberg said the team could end up playing 15 games over the next month before the Big Ten tournament starts — something that’s unheard of in the college world.

Still, the former Iowa State and Chicago Bulls coach said the team never discussed simply ending the season early.

All Hoiberg and his players can do, he said, is push forward.

“Nobody has any idea how this affects these guys,” Hoiberg said, via the Omaha World Herald. “From a mental standpoint, to have to isolate like they are, to not be able to do things like they’ve done in the past, it’s hard. It’s hard on these guys. It’s hard on us. But all we can do is worry about the next day and try to get them through the best we can.”

Nebraska head coach Fred Hoiberg
Fred Hoiberg, who had two open heart surgeries, said he was concerned and had chest pains during his fight against the coronavirus. (AP/John Peterson)

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