Westerville South track and field coach Jimmy Gaul always has considered himself to be an optimist.
As the country continues to deal with the effects of the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic, Gaul has tried to remain upbeat. He also has been communicating with his athletes on a regular basis despite schools being closed and spring sports being delayed.
"I have to try to stay optimistic," Gaul said. "These are tough times for everyone. Hopefully there's some way that we can get out there and compete this spring, (even) if it's an abbreviated season. I wouldn't even know what meets would look like. We'd like to get the opportunity to go out after this stressful situation. To be able to compete and have fun would be great."
An initial three-week closing of Ohio schools by Gov. Mike DeWine ends Friday, April 3. The OHSAA has instituted a no-contact period, but coaches are allowed to send their athletes suggested workouts.
The earliest the spring regular season could begin under the initial ruling is April 11, but the timetable would be altered if the reopening of schools is further delayed.
Update: DeWine announced March 30 that schools will remain closed through May 1.
Gaul admitted his optimism doesn't prevent him from being a realist. He has relayed workout information to his athletes via a Google document.
"We're looking at the landscape of the world and trying to read into what this situation looks like as it's unfolding in other places, but (we're) hopeful that we will have the opportunity to compete in some fashion this spring," he said.
South senior Makayla Roberts is hoping to build on a strong junior season in which she finished 10th in the discus (111 feet, 2 inches) in the Division I regional meet. She was 19th in the shot put (33-3 3/4) in the state indoor meet March 7.
"I've been trying to stay home as much as possible and putting out the word to people to stay home because this season means a lot to me and I know it means a lot to the other seniors on my team," she said.
Gaul would hate to see the seniors not have a final prep season.
"That's who my heart breaks for more than anything else right now," he said. "There's only so much training you can do at home with schools closed down if you're a hurdler, a vaulter (or) a thrower. You don't have access to the tools of your trade. That's a tough situation. ... My heart breaks for those dreams being on hold for the time being."
At Central, the softball team hopes to return to the Division I state tournament. The Warhawks played in their first state tournament last spring, losing to Liberty Township Lakota East 4-3 in a semifinal to finish 28-3.
"We're hanging in there," senior Cami Compson said. "We're all a little bummed, but we're hoping to get the opportunity to be able to play ... and hopefully do really well and be able to go further than we did last year."
Compson said coach Brian Wamsley has stressed the importance of being ready to return to the field while maintaining social distancing.
"Obviously, we're not allowed to practice as a team, but he expects us to still be doing things on our own and working out and being prepared if we end up playing," said Compson, an outfielder who will play at Wright State. "What they're doing right now is appropriate. They're just trying to keep everything in control, but if they cancel the season that would be very disappointing."
Central's baseball team canceled a trip to Cocoa Beach, Florida, because of the coronavirus.
"I just feel horrible for the kids that they may not have a spring season," coach Jeff Keifer said. "A lot of the seniors have worked year-round for this."
Central senior Ryan Raybould was looking forward to his final prep season on the diamond.
"We're trying to get everyone to get some swings in, to go out to the field whenever we can," he said. "I have a net, so I have been taking swings off a tee. We're hanging in there."
North softball coach Brian Anderson remains optimistic.
"We (had) a team meeting on Zoom (on March 25)," he said. "I'm touching base with the captains every day. I try to email or use Twitter to contact the others at least every other day. We're trying to keep them in a positive state of mind."
North senior track standout Jaiden Stokes, who has committed to Brown, is attempting to stay in shape in case the season begins.
"I have been having some family bike rides and I try to do as much as I can," she said. "I try to run as much as I can, but it can be tough to do the workouts without having access to a track."
Stokes said it would be disappointing to see the season canceled.
"It would be really devastating because I really wanted to go out with a bang in my senior season," she said. "I understand the extra measures that have been taken. The health and safety of our nation is a bigger concern right now. I hope they can find a compromise to still have sports and also keep people safe."
DeSales boys lacrosse player Mason Rickens said his team has been trying to deal with the layoff.
"It's been really hard," said Rickens, a Rutgers recruit. "It feels about like a movie. That's about the only way to describe it. The coaches did a great job handling everything (before the no-contact period) and reassuring us."
DeSales senior Isaiah Thomas, who helped the boys bowling team advance to its first state tournament, is hoping for at least a partial track season. He works out twice a day, which includes training on a trampoline, along with lifting and core work.
"Sometimes we post our exercises via video or just by telling others what we did," he said. "During bowling season, I did indoor track, too, so I've been working on track since November. I can't wait for this season."
ThisWeek reporters Scott Hennen and Dave Purpura contributed to this story.