NORTHERN MICHIGAN — No matter what sports season it is, Cheboygan High School athletic trainer Emily Mahoney enjoys seeing her athletes.


She enjoys working with her athletes.


She enjoys interacting with her athletes.


But this spring has been different — much different.


Instead of being with those athletes, Mahoney, who has been with the Cheboygan athletic program and worked as an employee at the Northern Michigan Sports Medicine Center (NMSMC) since 2012, was laid off temporarily from her position in March as a result of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.


Since March 23, the outpatient therapy office at NMSMC has been closed to help slow the virus, bringing work to a complete halt for many trainers in the company.


While Mahoney has enjoyed spending more time with her family, including her six-year-old daughter Harper, not being on the field, the diamond or anywhere else has been a strange feeling.


"It’s gut wrenching to not be around my teams," said Mahoney. "I miss the camaraderie of the athletes, and the highs and lows of every game. There were so many seniors that didn’t get their last chance to shine and my heart goes out to them.


"I have a lot more family time, but I’m missing even the cold and rainy game coverage.


Mahoney is one of many trainers around Northern Michigan who's been affected by the pandemic.


Another is Petoskey High School athletic trainer Lindsey Griffes, who works for the same company as Mahoney. Griffes was also laid off temporarily.


Like Mahoney, Griffes, now in her fourth year as Petoskey's head trainer, has had to make adjustments in her schedule.


And it's been difficult.


"I would say the most difficult part has been realizing how much this (pandemic) has affected me, realizing there won't be spring sports," said Griffes. "I remember when things started to close and college kids were transitioning to online learning and, for some reason, I didn’t even think this was going to impact me and my job, but here I am, not having worked in over four weeks or so. Another difficult thing for me is realizing this group of seniors was the first group of athletes I trained for four consecutive years, as it’s my fourth year with (Petoskey).


"Our clinic has completely closed, so I have experienced as much change in that aspect of the job as I have with the high school closing and ending winter and spring sports."


While not currently working at the moment, both Mahoney and Griffes have reached out to athletes, parents and coaches to help them out. Athletes, parents and coaches have also reached out to both of them for suggestions on what they should do.


Both have helped out in a big way despite the difficult circumstances.


"I’ve sent exercise routines to help with a couple shoulder issues and knee injuries," Mahoney said.


"I have been in contact with a few athletes who either had a surgery right before the stay-at-home order or had some sort of flare up since school has been dismissed," Griffes added. "I have been able to give them advice and tips for how to manage their ailment best during these difficult times — and it has been tough. A lot of communication has come through email or social media, so it’s typically pictures of where their pain is, and then a lot of questions on how and when it started, what activities bother them. Thankfully we have a few physical therapists (at NMSMC) doing tele-visits, and I have been able to send a few individuals with bigger issues their way for help."


While fall sports won't be happening at least for a few more months, the trainers are likely to be working and treating their patients somewhat soon.


As for this fall, they're hoping for the best.


"I would be devastated without sports in the fall," Mahoney said. "There’s just something cathartic about being outside in the fall watching my teams."