It has the power to speak significantly louder than words.
It also provides some much-needed security and comfort.
Or, as Golden Globe award-winning actor James Earl Jones eloquently put it, "You don’t build a bond without being present."
For Dan Scourfield, lending a shoulder to lean on is as vital as having a pulse.
To the delight of the veteran Cuyahoga Falls head girls cross country coach, his runners, particularly his more battle-tested athletes, have embraced such a ruminative concept to the max.
"We have a really good group of senior girls," Scourfield said. "They do a good job of taking care of the sophomores. All of them take care of one another, which is important."
The Black Tigers certainly took care of each other Saturday against a talented field.
Falls finished 15th with 329 points at the 30-team Frank Gibas Meet at Kenston High School in Bainbridge Township.
The host Bombers won the competition with 82 points and Uniontown Green (119) and Cleveland Heights Beaumont (127) placed second and third, respectively.
It was the Black Tigers’ first trip to Kenston’s course, which featured wooded trail for much of the way. It also had some drastic changes in elevation that urged runners to master the rugged and sometimes vexatious mind-over-matter circumstances.
Fortunately, Scourfield’s distance specialists proved to be globe-trotting pundits throughout the hilly forest.
"Of the 13 girls that ran, we had eight PRs [personal records] and four season bests," Scourfield said. "It was a really good day. The girls enjoyed the course. We like running in the woods anyway. It was really nice running weather."
Beaumont’s Mia Mlynek and Addison Ciecierski took the top two spots with times of 18 minutes, 44 seconds and 18:51.7, respectively. A total of 230 runners competed.
Aimyia Dudley led the Black Tigers with an 18th-place clocking of 19:58.3, which was a personal best. Meredith Gallagher, who did not run the previous week due to an academic requirement, was next for Falls in 25th (personal-best 20:23.4).
"Meredith ran super well," Scourfield said.
Rounding out the top five were Chelsea Huffman (21:45.8), Elsa Lowry (101st, 22:12.1) and Nadia Luksza (110th, 22:26.7).
"Chelsea didn’t run a PR, but she ran a phenomenal race," Scourfield said.
Of course, "phenomenal race" seemed to be the theme for the Black Tigers on another pleasant, late-summer day.
Other personal-best times came from Isabelle Coffman (23:54.2), Kearan Barnett (23:55), Teagan Barnett (24:01.7) and Kendall Walker (25:22.4). Meanwhile, Becca Johnston (25:52) and Kaley Palmer (28:40.2) established personal records in the open race.
"Belle had a big PR by almost a minute," Scourfield said. "Teagan was close to a minute and a half. Everybody ran well. It was just a good day against a competitive field."
The Black Tigers are scheduled to run in the Pat Ritchie Invitational Saturday at Walsh Jesuit High School. The girls race is set to take place at 9 a.m.
When they make the short trip to Wyoga Lake Road, the Falls girls plan to continue encouraging each other and making themselves available to one another.
Perhaps they may consider the advice of 19th-century author Edward Everrett Hale: "Coming together is a beginning; keeping together is progress; working together is success."
In this case, though, it’s a good bet these particular Black Tigers won’t be running "without a country."
"For the most part, everybody improved from week one to week two," Scourfield said. "We’re hoping to get that same type of improvement at Walsh."
Reporter Frank Aceto can be reached at 330-541-9444, firstname.lastname@example.org or @FrankAceto_RPC.