Catching up with local athletes amid COVID-19: Ethan Wolf

By: 
Seth Kinker
Sports Editor

Sports are on hold around the country as COVID-19 is being addressed. In the upcoming weeks, The Community Post will be checking in with local athletes and coaches that continued their athletic careers after high school and how COVID-19 is effecting them in their respective sport.

This week, The Community Post talked with Tennessee alum, Minster alum and current Los Angeles Ram Ethan Wolf. 

Wolf, a tight end during his career for the Wildcats, has been training on an adjusted schedule since signing a reserve/future contract with the Rams on Dec. 31, 2019 and the COVID-19 pandemic effecting the country nationwide in early March. 

After being released by the Jacksonville Jaguars last August, there was about a five-month break before Wolf signed a last-minute deal with the Rams. During that time, he was looking to get back to the level of explosiveness he knew he had coming off of a torn meniscus when he was with Green Bay.

Last December, he was working out in Nashville with his trainer, ready for anything, when plans changed last minute. 

“I was supposed to go play in St. Louis for the XFL team there and the day before I was supposed to report to camp, that night I was finishing up packing and everything, the Rams had called me and said they wanted to sign me,” said Wolf in an over the phone interview. 

Wolf got on a flight the next day, went to LA and talked about it with his agent. 

“There were only five weeks left in the season,” said Wolf. “We didn’t really know if I would have enough time to show them I was worth their time. We decided to do it anyway and it went well. I got the futures deal, that was our goal.”

When everything began to close in Ohio due to COVID-19, things hadn’t began closing yet in Tennessee. Wolf was actually planning to go to the state championship if the Minster girls had won their semifinal game (his younger sister, Ivy, is a junior point guard for the Lady Wildcats). 

Wolf adjusted accordingly as establishments began to close in Tennessee 

He ended up linking with a familiar face, his brother Eli, who signed an undrafted free agent deal with the Baltimore Ravens shortly after the completion of the draft on Apr. 25. Both Wolf’s isolated and trained together as they prepared for the next steps in their careers. 

“A lot of people have helped us out, recognizing the scenario we're in,” said Wolf. “We’ve got some close friends that are being real generous in terms of letting us use equipment. We’ve got some weights, just doing garage workouts and running outside. I’ve compared it to Rocky IV, all those workouts, just figuring out ways. Unfortunately, everything is closing down, but we don’t have the luxury just to be able to lay around and be bums. We have to stay ready to be the athletes were supposed to be so we're finding ways.”

Preparing for next year and the draft with his brother was beneficial from the physical and mental aspects according to Wolf. 

“The mental aspect is as important as physical health,” said Wolf. “To sit around and not have anything to do, you can only work out so long, you have to be smart about it all. It only takes 2-3 hours a day (to work out) and then you’ve got all that time, it can take a toll on you mentally. All my coaches in the past have harped on mental health, I’ve got a book right now im reading about staying in the zone and mental health but mental aspects of the game too.” 

“Like any brothers we bicker even when were together but at the end of the day we’re glad we have the ability to be in the same scenario,” added Wolf. “Gifted and blessed to be allowed to play in the NFL and to have someone, especially someone that's family and I'm that close with, that were on the same schedule. Its big time we could go through this together. We support each other more than anybody. We’re each other’s biggest fans, I’m excited to see how this all plays out and hopefully we can get to rocking and rolling here soon, I’m ready to play some ball. I know he is too.” 

On the football side of things, Wolf has been able to share his experiences in different offenses with Eli as well as being a soundboard for any questions Eli had about the process. 

“It was awesome,” said Eli. “From an advice standpoint, through all the training and the virus and everything being closed, just having a partner to do it all with, it made it so much easier not having to go into the garage and work out alone or sit there and study film alone. Just having him there made it a lot easier.”

Wolf told The Community Post he was glad to be able to be there for his brother but at the same time couldn’t relate 100% to the things Eli was going through.

“He went out and did what he did at his virtual Pro Day which was huge for him,” said Wolf.  “The things he could control, he did a great job at it. He’s worked hard every day and he’s going to be ready for sure. He’s handled the scenario as best as he possibly could, there’s no handbook on how to handle this scenario, a draft with a pandemic going on. If there was a book on it, I’d like to read it.” 

After getting to Knoxville to train with his brother and his trainer, they decided to head back to Ethan’s place in Nashville to that was bigger than Eli’s one-bedroom apartment for the both of them to continue training.

It went quickly from having a workout regimen planned to scrambling around and making plans like lugging equipment with them when they changed locations. 

Organized Team Activities (OTA) were scheduled to start Apr. 19 with the Rams but clearly that wouldn’t be the case. 

“L.A. contacted me asking me what I needed in terms of equipment,” said Wolf. “They’re not sure what they can send yet with the new CBA. If so, they’re going to try and send me a squat rack to, I assume, my house in Nashville.” 

Normally, Wolf would’ve been training in Nashville with his trainer and a group of other pro athletes including George Kittle of the San Francisco 49ers, CJ Uzomah of the Bengals among others. 

Whether it was speed workouts, lifting, yoga sessions or private coaching, Wolf had a regimen he’s looking forward to getting back to doing. 

“I have no idea how this is all going to pan out, we’re just taking it one day at time really,” said Wolf. “’Do what we can do, control the controllable,’ is kind of what I’ve operated on my entire career. There things that are out of your control, no sense in stressing about them, just do what you can do to be ready and put forth as much effort as you can.”

That ended up being Minster as he and Eli came back for Easter; spending time with the whole family, working out and watching the Apr. 25 NFL draft. 

Soon, they’ll be heading back to Tennessee to continue preparing for the next time they can compete on the gridiron.