“I am blessed; we are just so blessed.” She said over and over during our visit.

Those words came from Cozy Stover, a parent of one of my former players, Kyle Stover.  I had done a podcast with Kyle back in November when we had the opportunity to visit him and his family in York, PA on our way down to Florida.

This past Thursday, we were able to stop and visit with Kyle’s parents, Rick and Cozy.  As with every other time that I’ve been around Rick and Cozy, it was a wonderful visit.

There was one thing, however, that was a little different about this visit. Rick was in a wheelchair from a stroke that he had suffered several weeks ago.  It was his second stroke in the past year.  The first one, back in August of 2020, was relatively mild.  Back in November, when we were visiting Kyle, he got Rick and Cozy on Facetime with us and you never would have known that he even had a stroke.

Unfortunately, this last one was much worse.  He had it in the parking lot of a local hardware store and was laying there for several hours before anyone found him.  He spent several weeks in the hospital and in rehab before coming home a short time ago.  He’s still non-verbal, but can eat and drink with his left hand, and he can help stand to get out of bed and into his wheelchair.  He is now able to help with his own care.  He still has a long way to go in his recovery but has made incredible improvements in just the few short weeks since the stroke.

Kyle and I were texting back and forth before we went down to see him and I had told Kyle that the major key to recovery is a positive attitude and great support system.

It is with that thought in mind that I have absolutely no doubt that Rick will make a full and 100% recovery from this stroke.  You see, the Stover’s have written the book on a positive attitude and a great support system.

This family and their optimistic outlook on life has had such a positive impact on my own life, that I wrote about it in Chapter 17, of my first book, “The Beauty of a Diamond, Through the eyes of a Coach.”  The chapter was titled, “2010”

Here’s an excerpt from that chapter:

Before I get to the early part of 2010, let me fast-forward to the end of 2010 and what I consider a defining moment in my life and my coaching career.  On Christmas Eve, I received a voice mail from one of my former players, Kyle Stover. When I called Kyle back, he informed me that his grandfather, Bill, had passed away. This was very sad news for me. I had coached Kyle off and on from when he was fifteen years old until he was about twenty-three years old. Kyle even helped coach our 18-U showcase team after he graduated college and I’m convinced that if he hadn’t moved to Pittsburgh, he would still be heavily involved in the organization today. Kyle was one of those players that you love to coach. He was talented, but even more, he had that passion, and he worked hard on and off the field. He’d run through a wall for you.  He wasn’t the biggest guy or the strongest guy on the team, but he made up for his size in grit and heart. One of Kyle’s best traits was his positive energy. He loved being at the baseball field, he loved being involved in the game. If we had one game, he wanted to play two, if we had two games, he would want to play three.

When he first started playing for me, he was fifteen and played for me at Conrad Weiser. When he came back to play for me on our college age team, he was part of a championship team; he was a freshman in college and was a role-player during that first season. He filled in where we needed him to and he played a huge part in helping us win that championship. He matured into an everyday player and a leader on a team that won three championships over the course of five years. He didn’t come in as a freshman expecting to start every game; he came in and understood his role, learned from the veterans that we had in 2003, and took over their roles as they left and helped us bring home titles in 2006 and 2007 as well. That team played in the League Championship Series for five straight years from 2003 through 2007; it was special time and a special group of guys.

However, to really understand Kyle’s passion and positive attitude, you have to look back even further. His parents, Rick and Cozy, and his grandparents, Bill and Marianne, were some of the most genuine and positive people that I have ever met in my life. They were all always laughing and always smiling. Especially Bill. I can honestly say that I have never seen this man without a smile on his face, and not just any smile, I mean a smile that could light up a room. A genuine and sincere smile all of the time, not fake or staged, the real thing. Regardless of the situation, Bill was smiling. This always impressed me.

The other great thing about Kyle’s family was that they were always there. I can probably count on one hand the number of games that someone from Kyle’s family wasn’t at during the time that Kyle played for me. As with any team, there were some games and stretches during those five years, as good as we were, that we didn’t play great baseball. We went through some slumps. I’ll never forget that after every loss, I would be somewhat grumpy and as I would walk out of the dugout one of the first people that I would see would be Kyle’s grandfather, Bill, with that huge smile, even after we just got it handed to us and played awful. He would just look at me with that smile and say, “Don’t worry, DC, you’ll get ‘em next time.” My response could only ever be to just smile back no matter how aggravated I was about our performance. Again, what made it even more special, was the sincerity with which he said it to me. He truly believed that we would get them next time. He always helped me keep things in perspective. After Bill passed away, I sent an online condolence through the funeral home web site to the family and couldn’t help but mention how I always remembered Bill’s huge smile and how it could light up a room. The funeral attracted one the largest crowds that I had seen at a funeral for someone Bill’s age. I literally stood in line for over an hour before getting to the casket to view Bill. Even more proof of the positive energy that Bill transmitted to those that he had touched during his life. Once I finally got to the family and we exchanged hugs and tears, Marianne told me how much what I had written about Bill had meant to her. I simply replied that it was from the heart.

Kyle, his wife, Angie, and Rick and Cozy all told me that it really meant a lot to them that I had taken the time to attend. In my mind, there was no choice. Bill deserved for me to be there. So did the rest of the family; not attending was not an option in my mind.

Then came the defining moment, Cozy introduced me to another member of the family. I can’t remember any more if it was an aunt or sister or someone else, but what Cozy said hit me like a ton of bricks. She said, “This is DC, he was Kyle’s baseball coach forever. He and Dad had a special connection; they are both positive energy people.  Dad never wanted to have any part of negative energy so he and DC had an immediate connection because DC was the same way, always positive. Dad always thought highly of DC.”

To say I was touched was an understatement. Here the man that I had pulled positive energy from also pulled positive energy from me.  It was also eye-opening for me and became the defining moment that I mentioned because I had lost that positive energy in 2010 and the results spoke for themselves.

That is exactly why I have no doubt that Rick will be back to his old self before we know it.  That positive energy, that support system is second to none in the Stover family.

Rick Stover – Still Smiling!

The day before we went to see Rick and Cozy, we had lunch with another one of my old players who was one of Kyle’s former teammates, Pete Jordan.  We spoke about Rick during lunch and at one point Pete mentioned that he couldn’t believe how positive and upbeat Kyle was when he spoke about his dad’s situation.  Pete said, “Man, if that was my dad, I’d be freaking out!”  So, that positive energy can be seen by everyone who interacts with the family.

It is so important when we face adversity in life to remain positive.  We can seldom control what happens to us in life, but we can always control our attitude and how we respond to the unexpected curves that life is always going to throw at us.

Not once during our visit did Cozy make one single negative comment about the situation that her and Rick are now in.  As a matter of fact, it was the exact opposite.  She only talked about how blessed they were to have wonderful and supportive family and friends.  How lucky they were that they decided to do their remodeling project over the winter as opposed to waiting until the spring.  On and on and on, she only spoke about how good things were for them.

She used the words “lucky” and “blessed” more times than I can remember.  Honestly though, I was not surprised.  The Stover’s would have it no other way.  They’re not going to sit around and sulk about a bad break.  They’re going face it head on and do what they have to do to get through it.

Being around the Stover family reminds me of Lou Gehrig and the speech that he gave on July 4th, 1939 after he was forced to retire from baseball due to his diagnosis of ALS.

Gehrig famously said, “For the past two weeks you have been reading about a bad break. Yet today I consider myself the luckiest man on the face of the earth.”

Even though Rick is currently non-verbal, I think that he was thinking those same thoughts every time that he and Cozy made eye contact.

When we first arrived, we all cried some happy tears and a few more when we left.  I told Rick that I couldn’t wait to see him walking around and telling stories soon.

You see, the Stover’s are more than just a family of a former player of mine, they are family.

Since I published my book, Bill’s wife, Marianne has also passed away.

I’m sure that they are both up there in heaven right now looking down and saying, “Stay positive Rick and Cozy, you’re going to get through this together.”

Just like Bill would say to me, “Don’t worry, DC, you’ll get ‘em next time,” after a tough loss.