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Former UNF basketball stand-outs return home from Europe, reflect on journey

With their seasons in limbo, Dallas Moore and Beau Beech have made their way back to the U.S.

Dallas Moore is ready to come home.

More than ready.

“My perspective is: these kids need to get outside! We’ve been cooped up for too long,” the former University of North Florida men’s basketball stand-out chuckled. Moore, his wife and their two young children have been in quarantine for more than 15 days – in Paris, France.

“Hopefully when everyone sees this, they’ll see I need a haircut!” he laughed.  

The haircut may have to wait, but the Moore’s finally were able to leave their home on Wednesday – and France. With Moore’s season with Nanterre 92 cancelled, the family of four boarded a plane back to the United States. Their destination upon arrival: John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York City. Given the coronavirus pandemic’s staggering numbers in New York, Moore admitted that he was a little scared for that layover.

But it was time.

“I’m low-key kind of a hypochondriac, so I would be okay with staying put... but you know for our family, for our kids, if they have to see a doctor [in France], it’s hard with the language barrier,” Moore explained. “It’s come to a point where we’ve been sitting over here for a long time, and we just want to be home.”

Moore’s nerves about flying through New York City were quelled a bit by first-hand knowledge from a former teammate.

“He sent a video and no one was on the flight. He was flying through JFK as well [from Germany],” Moore said. “He said it was really easy. Now, when he got to New York, obviously they screened him and stuff. But he said it was kind of empty.”

That former teammate also happens to be a University of North Florida alum: Ponte Vedra’s Beau Beech. Beech traveled back to the U.S. the week of March 23rd after he and his club, the Hamburg Towers, self-quarantined for 14 days.

“I didn’t have a mask [on the flight]. I was definitely in the minority of that. Most everyone had masks,” Beech said. His itinerary: Hamburg to Amsterdam to JFK to Jacksonville. There were 13 people on his flight from New York to Florida.

“I also didn’t have gloves, but I had wipes and hand sanitizer. So everything I was touching, everything I was doing, I was wiping the surface down. Coughing into a tissue, hand sanitizering everything,” Beech continued.

“[The trip] was pretty smooth. It was definitely a surreal moment.”

While Moore’s French league has cancelled its season, Beech’s league in Germany is, at this time, scheduled to resume April 30. Although he was allowed to train in isolation at his team’s facility, Beech felt he would be more prepared for the season’s return if he trained back home in Ponte Vedra. The Hamburg Towers – including Beech’s coach, who is a Nocatee resident – completely understood.

“I can work out with my dad, being my old coach – taught me everything I know,” he said. “We have a [basketball] court in the front yard. It’s kinda like I can do things with more freedom while still being restricted [by social distancing].”

Beech admitted: his first few days upon his return, he constantly questioned if every ache or cough was jet-lag, allergies or symptoms of COVID-19. Stories of other American-born players traveling back to the U.S., such as Wisconsin alum Ethan Happ, were concerning. But having already self-quarantined and practicing good hygiene, his nerves have settled and he has adjusted to his “new normal” back home.

“Luckily, I was in Northern Germany, where there were only a few cases here and there… nothing like those Southern European countries like Italy. Even in Southern Germany, it had gotten to a point where you had to walk around with [essential worker] paperwork to walk about the city,” Beech explained.

“The flocks of people [at the beach in Ponte Vedra] is concerning. Especially since we did the self-quarantine as a team, and took it upon ourselves to give each other space,” Beech reflected, in comparing the social distancing efforts in Europe and the United States. No one on his team nor in their league was exposed to COVID-19, but they still, as Beech put it “wanted to be good, global citizens" -- just like Moore, his family and his league in France and their quarantine. 

“I get it, it’s nice and sunny. Trust me, I was in Germany where it was cold,” he smiled. “It would just be nice if everyone could do their part for two weeks. And after two, three weeks, we could all get back to normal life.”

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