The Cheshire High School softball program thinks of themselves as a family. While only playing in the spring, the squad participates in off-season training, team-bonding activities, and community service projects throughout the year.
“Being part of this team means everything,” said senior Lindsey Abramson, a quad-captain with classmates Ari Perlini and Emma Watkinson and junior Bri Pearson. “These girls are my best friends and the coaches go over and beyond to do things for us.”
This spring has brought an unprecedented challenge, as COVID-19 or coronavirus has forced the close-knit group to stay apart when they most enjoy coming together. While practicing social distancing, the Rams recently capitalized on an opportunity to display their unity and give hope to people around them.
After being asked to participate in the #LetsPlayCatch video challenge by Cheshire Wildcats and Fitch High School on social media, Cheshire filmed a minute and 24 second spot of the coaching staff and players tossing and catching the ball in intervals. Since being posted on March 28, the video has gone viral, with 21,500 combined views on Facebook and Twitter.
“It was a way to stay connected as a team,” stated Head Coach Kristine Drust. “We want to be there for each other just like if we were on the field.”
In many social media videos, teams introduce their players when they catch the ball, but the Rams wanted do something more heartwarming and fun.
“We wanted to find a balance between the challenge and warming the hearts of the community,” stated Drust.
CHS coaches had a brainstorming session with the captains on virtues of gratitude and inspiring words to use in their video. After Drust speaks the first message of ‘being grateful,’ other phrases included being thoughtful, loyal, inclusive, accepting, unselfish, and patient, as well as suggesting that people work hard, show love, be understanding, be kind, be helpful, and have hope.
“We wanted to pick words to counter the fear that is out there right now,” Drust explained.
For filming, people needed at least one person to throw them the ball and hold a phone.
“They caught it with their left hand and threw it with their right,” said Drust. “After filming, they sent me the video clips, so we could put them together.”
The video starts with the statement, ‘Let’s help spread something different.’ From there, the catch videos are synched up, so it looks like they are throwing to each other. Following their messages, the team finishes the spot by saying “We are the Rams.”
“I saw that it (the video) was on the (Fox 61) news. It is crazy how it has spread,” said Abramson. “I think this is the message that everybody was looking for and needed to hear in this strange time we are living in right now.”
For their leadership group, the coaches announced their four captains on March 12.
“This program has given me so many opportunities and friends. It feels great to give back to it,” said Abramson, whose older sister Abby was a two-time captain and graduated in 2017.
“They (the captains) are doing an amazing job,” added Drust. “All of four of them bring a different level of passion, light heartedness, and fun.”
Drust feels that the health crisis is another opportunity for her squad to be there for each other.
“If there is any time to be a team, it is a situation like this. This is what being on a team is for,” explained Drust.
CHS graduated co-captains Jade Barnes, Bri Floyd, Lexie Hemstock, Mia Juodaitis, and Zoe Kasinskas from last year’s team that won the Southern Connecticut Conference crown and shared the Hammonasset Division title. Cheshire (23-4) also reached the Class LL final four for the fifth straight year.
“I’ve been playing with some of those (senior) girls since third grade, so it is different without them,” stated Abramson. “Every year, we graduate girls and need to make adjustments. I feel good about the girls we have this year.”
The team hasn’t given up on taking the field this spring.
“We want to get some sort of a season even if we only have a few games,” stated Abramson.