KC Coach Puts Career on Hold to Help Fight the Virus
KSHB

NEW YORK CITY — Alex Charlton was supposed to be wrapping up spring football. Instead, he’s wrapping up four straight 12-hour shifts.

Charlton was supposed to be in the middle of scrimmages. Instead, he’s wearing scrubs.

He was supposed to be setting up his new place in Wichita Falls, Texas. Instead, he’s making himself home in New York City.

“It was a calling for me I thought,” said Charlton, a Kansas City native and St. Thomas Aquinas High School alumnus.

That calling was to sign a two-month travel nursing contract in the middle of the coronavirus outbreak – in the epicenter of it, in the middle of a big break in his preferred career, football.

“You don’t really see a coach with a nursing degree,” Charlton said. “That’s kind of rare.”

But that’s exactly what Charlton is. His coaching career was on track, working on the staffs of Mark Mangino, Turner Gill and Charlie Weis at the University of Kansas. But Charlton found himself out of a job in 2015 when David Beaty took over in Lawrence. That’s when Alex decided to get his nursing degree.

He worked on a local high school football staff while doing that in Kansas City. But the plan was always to return to college coaching.

“I had been trying to get back into the college coaching world for the last couple of years,” he said.

Earlier this year he achieved that goal, landing a job as a graduate assistant wide receivers coach at Midwestern State University, an NCAA Division-II football program in Wichita Falls, Texas.

“I was still working as a nurse on March 2,” Charlton said. “I then drove down (to Texas) the next day.”

MSU made it through five spring practices before shutting down football activity amid COVID-19 concerns. Charlton still had a job but could do it from anywhere.

help in COVID-19 fight

Alex Charlton was supposed to be in the middle of scrimmages. Instead, he’s wearing scrubs.

Charlton was supposed to be in the middle of scrimmages. Instead, he’s wearing scrubs.

He was supposed to be setting up his new place in Wichita Falls, Texas. Instead, he’s making himself home in New York City.

“It was a calling for me I thought,” said Charlton, a Kansas City native and St. Thomas Aquinas High School alumnus.

That calling was to sign a two-month travel nursing contract in the middle of the coronavirus outbreak – in the epicenter of it, in the middle of a big break in his preferred career, football.

“You don’t really see a coach with a nursing degree,” Charlton said. “That’s kind of rare.”

But that’s exactly what Charlton is. His coaching career was on track, working on the staffs of Mark Mangino, Turner Gill and Charlie Weis at the University of Kansas. But Charlton found himself out of a job in 2015 when David Beaty took over in Lawrence. That’s when Alex decided to get his nursing degree.

He worked on a local high school football staff while doing that in Kansas City. But the plan was always to return to college coaching.

“I had been trying to get back into the college coaching world for the last couple of years,” he said.

Earlier this year he achieved that goal, landing a job as a graduate assistant wide receivers coach at Midwestern State University, an NCAA Division-II football program in Wichita Falls, Texas.

“I was still working as a nurse on March 2,” Charlton said. “I then drove down (to Texas) the next day.”

MSU made it through five spring practices before shutting down football activity amid COVID-19 concerns. Charlton still had a job but could do it from anywhere.

“I’m like, ‘If we’re not going to be there, I’m going to go help,'” he said.

With the blessing of MSU Head Coach Bill Maskill, Charlton boarded a flight, found a place in downtown New York City, and went to work in the emergency room at Mount Sinai hospital.

“This is a crisis and I’m a nurse,” Charlton said. “I’m capable of helping. Absolutely I’m going to be out there. That’s just my nature.”

He arrived in New York on April 3, exactly one month after he arrived in Wichita Falls.

“Everybody asks me, ‘Hey, you’re going to be exposed to the virus potentially,'” Charlton said. “Well, I will be exposed to it. Whether I catch it or not is a different story, but I don’t think like that.”

On his walk home from shifts, Alex is often serenaded with cheers from people on lockdown in apartments above him, appreciative of the work hospital staffers are doing.

But the work isn’t over when he returns to his apartment. His clothes go immediately in the washing machine. He wipes down his keys, wallet, badge, door handle and anything else he’s touched throughout the day. He takes a shower, washes his hands repeatedly and even takes medicinal precautions.

“Some calcium, some vitamins, some zinc, just to help support my immune system,” he said.