In a time like this, words do matter, according to senior third baseman Hailey Krinn of the Big Walnut softball team.
She and six classmates have high expectations for a season that is on hold because of the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic.
Baseball, softball, lacrosse and track and field athletes had been practicing with their respective teams for more than two weeks when the OHSAA announced a mandatory no-contact period would begin March 17.
All spring sports are postponed through at least May 1 because the OHSAA is following Gov. Mike DeWine's stay-at-home order.
"We've tried to stay in contact with each other and talk about it, because nothing like this has ever happened," Krinn said. "We've been trying to pick each other up and encourage each other."
Last season, Krinn helped the Golden Eagles finish 17-6 overall and 7-3 in the OCC-Capital Division to place second behind Groveport (9-1). An Ashland commit, she batted .536 with 14 doubles, six home runs and 24 RBI and was named second-team all-state in Division II.
In an effort to stay sharp, Krinn has been "hitting a couple hundred balls off the tee" during home workouts that also include running, strength conditioning and throwing with her father and siblings.
"This has been tough," softball coach Jeff Hatfield said. "Think about it, it's not just softball. It's graduation and prom and other year-end events. The girls are down, and I try to send them an inspirational email or text and just try to keep in touch. They're crushed, and in my 58 years on this earth, I've never seen anything like this."
Girls lacrosse coach Steve Palmer has 10 seniors -- led by attacker Jenna Allen, goalkeeper Aubrey Logue and midfielder Kimmie Serna -- on his team, which produced the most wins in program history last season when it finished 8-8.
Palmer has been highlighting the seniors during online events.
"We want to make them feel important and special," he said. "At first, I think they thought, 'This is cool, we're missing school,' but now the reality has set in on how serious this is and that they are living through it."
His players have kept things light, too, showing off their passing and stick skills in a short video Palmer posted on his Twitter page, @bw13palmer.
While all teams are prohibited from holding practices or competitions during the no-contact period, coaches may send athletes recommended home workouts.
Longtime girls track and field coach Joe Evener has encouraged his athletes to make videos of themselves so he can critique their workouts and skills. He remains in constant contact with members of his team.
"I send out an email a day, whether it be informative or fun," Evener said. "I try to keep my focus on, 'Let's train and prepare like there's going to be a season.'"
Among the key returnees for the Golden Eagles is senior distance runner Colbi Borland, who placed sixth in the 3,200 meters in the Division I regional meet last season in a school-record 11 minutes, 12.98 seconds.
Borland also won district (11:32.25) and OCC-Capital (11:47.2) titles in the 3,200 a year ago as well as the league title in the 1,600 (5:18.92).
"She's running really well," Evener said. "We'd have to assume that she was going to qualify for the state meet."
Other key returnees include seniors Hanna Pinkston and Grace Salloum and sophomore Cindy Serna, who helped Big Walnut win its third consecutive OCC-Capital title last season.
Pinkston was the team's top sprinter a year ago, while Salloum (discus, 99 feet, 4 inches) and Serna (300 hurdles, 48.11) won league titles.
"I keep them motivated every day, hoping that there's going to be a season," Evener said. "We're just keeping our fingers crossed. ... You just hope for the seniors that they're allowed to put the finishing touch on their careers."