The Iso: Paul Rodriguez


The Players’ Tribune is introducing a new series called The Iso. With so many of us keeping our distance from each other in a variety of ways, we decided to ask some of our favorite athletes to share how they’ve been dealing with life in the Covid-19 world, and how they’re spending their time away from their sport.

I’m at home in Granada Hills, California. I have my 11-year-old daughter, Heaven, my girlfriend, Rachel, and our dog, Cali — that’s the quarantine squad.

One night recently, Rachel took Heaven and me out for a drive in her cool Jeep truck. We laid down on our backs in the truck bed, and she drove us around for a little while through the neighborhood while my daughter and I just looked up at the sky. I feel like during this time I’ve been taking it back to when I was a little kid — just doing kid stuff.

When you’re a kid, you’re kind of quarantined at home because you’re not that independent. I’m going back to being 12, 13 years old, skating in the backyard, coming back inside, watching TV, eating food, going back out and skating. I had these little obstacles in my backyard that my mom let me build when I was younger. Recently, a friend of mine who owns this company called OC Ramps sent me a couple of his skate obstacles, including a ledge that I put together, so it really is taking me back. I’m very lucky to have a yard to go out back and skate in and at least get my fix, get my craving satisfied.

Like most people, I’m kind of at the point where time doesn’t really matter anymore. I wake up randomly, just whenever. I get up, drink some coffee, sit and relax, meditate for a little while. Then I mosey my way outside into the backyard, where I have a little basketball hoop area where I skate for however long before I head inside. Then every day around dusk, we take Cali out for a walk.

Heaven isn’t in school right now, which is the biggest change. Usually, I’ll wake up pretty early to take her to school and get my day going from there. After dropping her off, I’d go out either street skating, trying to film and get content and footage, or go to the Nike park to work on some new things.

I had a little cold that scared me straight about the virus pretty early on. I was hearing about it, and on the news they were talking about how cases were starting to grow. I was still skating at the skate parks. Then I started feeling sick. I had a sore throat, and I was like, Uh-oh, that’s not good. For probably three days, I was under the weather and watching the news, and I started getting paranoid like, Oh my God, do I have it? Then I felt a lot better, so I probably didn’t, but I started taking it pretty seriously.

Paul Rodriguez

Everything’s good here. Rachel has her own YouTube channel — she’s a carpenter and has a workshop in the garage where she builds a bunch of stuff — so for her, not too much has changed. She can still build her projects, and shoot her videos, and edit and do all of her things. So, luckily, we’ve got our creative needs satisfied. That’s big in our life. And it’s major to help you not go crazy. As long as you have that creative outlet, that urge for the day satisfied, you’ll be O.K.

Heaven just had me make a TikTok account. She’s been teaching me dances to post, so we are doing a lot of that. (That’s her creative outlet!)

I personally believe in a higher power. I definitely like to spend my mornings and my evenings doing a little meditation — I say my prayers and give thanks and gratitude. I always try to focus my mind on the positives. This is a weird time, and if you go down a wormhole of negative thoughts, you can really give yourself anxiety, especially worrying about the economy. I’m a business owner, and this has been pretty stressful on our business.

I just constantly count my blessings. No. 1, I have a beautiful place to live and a yard where I can exercise. Also, we’re lucky to live in a day and age when we have access to technology like Netflix and all of these other streaming channels, and we have social media and ways to communicate with the outside world really easily. And it’s amazing that grocery stores are still open … I’m just counting my blessings.

This situation has allowed me to take things that I occasionally do, like meditation, and build them into habits. Also, I have a lot of time to reflect on skateboarding and what I want to work on. I can take my time and fine-tune tricks and things that I’ve already mastered and add new technique to them — develop them even further. It’s kind of fun to get into the weeds with it and nitpick and work on the minutia that I don’t normally focus on.

I feel like everybody who is in a position to do so should find a way to make this situation a blessing by improving themselves. If you’re at home and lucky enough to have your basic needs met, don’t let this situation completely throw you off of your goals and path. Find creative inspiration, get your hands dirty — and I think that will help us get to the finish line.