Emily Potter had an unnerving task earlier this month. Like thousands of other Canadians overseas, she had to find a way home in the wake of the growing COVID-19 threat.
There was a hitch, though.
The 24-year-old Winnipegger would be stuck in the Czech Republic, self-isolating for another week while waiting for a flight out after KP Brno's season in the country's pro women's basketball league was cancelled.
Her team had played on March 11 and was to play one more regular-season game before starting the playoffs.
On her appointed travel day, a two-hour drive from Brno to the airport in Prague went smoothy. Then, momentary panic.
Potter's scheduled flight to Frankfurt had been cancelled, requiring her to book another trip, this one to London's Heathrow later that day. While she waited in Prague, she made joking plea via Twitter for Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to send a plane.
With her sense of humour intact, Potter boarded the jet with only 10 passengers (Czech nationals had been banned from travelling) bound for England, spent the night in London before a connecting flights to Toronto and Winnipeg, arriving on Thursday.
Coming home never felt so good. Most importantly, she felt healthy, too.
The two-week quarantine, prescribed for all Canadians returning from overseas, will be spent mostly in the basement of her dad Robert's house.
"It hasn't been bad," said Potter Tuesday. "I've been getting out for daily walks, at-home workouts and just trying to find stuff to do. Crafts, cleaning, projects, stuff like that.
"We've got a countdown on the whiteboard by the kitchen, it's Day 5 of self-isolation. I'm feeling good. It's kinda weird, though. Every time I feel a tickle in my throat or I cough I'm, 'Oh my gosh, am I getting sick?' I just wouldn't want to spread it to anyone else if I got sick."
Potter is determined to keep fresh and focused, avoiding the constant diet of television that is often the first resort of someone who's being cooped up. As a crafty person, she already owns a sewing machine and plans use the time to start making cloths.
She misses basketball but knows she will have to do without, at least for a while. Robert Potter, who operates a local construction company, is still working out of the house and so Emily has a lot of time to herself.
"Sometimes it's not too good to look too far ahead," said Potter. "I'm just trying to fill my days with as much as possible, not just sitting around watching Netflix. Home workouts, talking to other friends in the States or friends who have come home from overseas, because they're self-isolating as well. Cooking, baking, arts and crafts -- that kind of thing.
"After these two weeks is over, there aren't too many places to go. I'm excited to go to the grocery store -- that's pretty much all there is. I think I might try to get a job, helping out in some way."
Delivering groceries to those who are unable to shop for themselves seems like a worthy idea. "There are people higher risk that me that are going to be concerned about going out," she said.
Public service has become an important part of Potter's life.
Three years ago, she went very public with her own struggles with depression while a student at the University of Utah by writing a personal account of her battle with mental illness for her school newspaper. In her essay, Potter admitted she took medication and required counselling.
Potter remains a commited mental health advocate.
"I think for people who struggle with mental illness, this could be a hard time for them," said Potter. "But even people who don't struggle with mental illness may see a dip in their mental health just because of the change in routine and a lot of uncertainty and unknowns.
"I think we definitely need to lean on each other -- not physically," she added with a laugh.
Basketball remains a big part of Potter's life. She suited up for Canada's national team last year and hopes to play in the Olympics one day. Keeping sharp and fit in these perilous times will take some doing.
Outdoor courts are not an option yet and running outside in the icy conditions can be tricky but Potter has a plan.
"Any time I've had a break from playing, it's been because I was injured," she said. "Even though I'm not injured right now, that past perspective is going to help me. I'll do what I can to stay in shape and try some things I normally don't. Right now I'm doing yoga every day and that's something I don't normally do during the season."
Mike has been working on the Free Press sports desk since 2003.
Your support has enabled us to provide free access to stories about COVID-19 because we believe everyone deserves trusted and critical information during the pandemic.
Our readership has contributed additional funding to give Free Press online subscriptions to those that can’t afford one in these extraordinary times — giving new readers the opportunity to see beyond the headlines and connect with other stories about their community.
To those who have made donations, thank you.
To those able to give and share our journalism with others, please Pay it Forward.
The Free Press has shared COVID-19 stories free of charge because we believe everyone deserves access to trusted and critical information during the pandemic.
While we stand by this decision, it has undoubtedly affected our bottom line.
After nearly 150 years of reporting on our city, we don’t want to stop any time soon. With your support, we’ll be able to forge ahead with our journalistic mission.
If you believe in an independent, transparent, and democratic press, please consider subscribing today.
We understand that some readers cannot afford a subscription during these difficult times and invite them to apply for a free digital subscription through our Pay it Forward program.
Updated on Wednesday, March 25, 2020 at 10:50 AM CDT: Removes Twitter embed