JACKSON TWP — For softball players, siblings and parents, family time is usually precious come springtime.
This spring, it's plentiful, thanks to COVID-19 and the cancelation of the high school spring sports season.
Seneca Valley's five softball seniors are all part of athletic families, accustomed to being on the go and out the door to get to games or practices.
“We're used to grabbing dinner on the run,” said Cori Wagner, mother of Raider senior Kearson Wagner. “Now we're sitting home having dinner as a family every night and we're taking two-mile walks together five days a week.”
Kearson has been playing travel softball since she was 9. She holds down two part-time jobs after school as well.
All of those activities are gone for the time being. Her mother has a “shrine” to her daughter — featuring her picture, a sign and her Seneca Valley softball jersey — displayed on a door in their house.
“I think it's cute ... She feels bad for me,” Kearson said.
Kearson's brother, 15-year-old Rylan, is a freshman at Seneca Valley.
“We're all used to being at the ballfield together. Now we're home watching TV together,” Mrs. Wagner said.
Four of the SV seniors — Maura Pasquale and Kearson Wagner to Edinboro, Julia Ehrman to Robert Morris, Lindsay Hans to Chatham — will be playing softball in college.
The fifth, Kassie Cavanagh, is facing surgery in June. The cancelation of spring sports ended her softball career.
“She's carrying herself like it doesn't bother her.” Kassie's mother, Patti Cavanagh, said. “But she's my kid. I know it does.
“Everyone in my family is happy and healthy. That's what's important.”
The family is staying busy, too.
“Games, jigsaw puzzles, movies, we're doing all of those things as a family,” Mrs. Cavanagh said. “My husband is a car nut, so he's been working on the cars. We've gotten a lot of yard work done, too.”
Kassie has two older brothers, including Sean, a men's volleyball player at Juniata College. He is in his senior season.
The men's volleyball season began in January.
“I have two seniors this year who didn't get to finish,” Mrs. Cavanagh said. “We should be putting miles on the car, driving all over the place to volleyball games, softball games.
“Instead, we're getting a lot more family time at home. I don't like the reason, but it has been quality time.”
Maura Pasquale plays volleyball, basketball and softball at Seneca Valley. She plays travel volleyball as well. Her brother played baseball at Butler County Community College.
Their father works at the Baseball Factory and is a scout for the Philadelphia Phillies.
But not now.
“We're used to being together on weekends. Now it's every day,” Mindy Pasquale, Maura's mother, said. “Family dinners have always been important to us and we're eating at a normal dinner hour these days.
“We used to have dinner at 8 p.m., 3:30 p.m. — always together, depending on the game schedule.”
With no organized games to attend, the Pasquale family is coming up with games of its own.
“When there's sunlight, we're outside,” Mrs. Pasquale said. “We're fresh air freaks. Backyard basketball, two-bounce, softball, volleyball, you name it. Inside, we've been playing cards, cribbage and working on puzzles.”
Stacey Hans has two daughters — Lindsay and Madison — involved in Seneca Valley softball. She says having her children at home each night instead of at a ballfield is “a nice change.”
“I feel for them because I know they're missing it, but we're safe at home, so this is where we'll be,” she said. “It's not just the softball. Their social time that way stopped, too.”
The Hans family has a fire pit in the backyard. It used to be active a couple of nights a week.
Now there's a fire burning in it virtually every night.
“We sit around it and just talk a lot,” Mrs. Hans said. “I have to admit ... I'm learning more about my kids, some things I wouldn't know had this (pandemic) not happened.”
Terry Ehrman has three children involved in sports, including senior softball player Julia and sophomore soccer player Emily.
“Multiple travel and school teams,” she said.
That activity has been reduced to playing catch with Julia and watching her hit a softball off a tee, into a net.
“The girls are running a lot, doing exercises, staying sharp with their skills,” Mrs. Ehrman said.
“This has had an impact on our lives, but we try to keep it in perspective. The bright side is we're way ahead on yard work. We're getting a lot of physical labor out of our kids.”