LEXINGTON — Gabby Stover couldn’t get to sleep.
Stover’s older brother, Ohio State tight end Cade Stover, was preparing to play in a national semifinal game against Georgia and Gabby already had her travel itinerary in hand. She would board a plane for Atlanta on Thursday and watch the Buckeyes and Bulldogs duke it out in what proved to be one of the greatest semifinal games in College Football Playoff history in the Peach Bowl on New Year’s Eve.
Only something didn’t feel right.
The Lexington girls basketball team was to host Ohio Cardinal Conference heavyweight West Holmes on Thursday night and Gabby, Lady Lex’s junior varsity coach, couldn’t justify leaving her team.
“It was eating at me,” she said. “It was West Holmes and my girls have been doing a good job and they work so hard for me.”
So instead of heading to the airport, Gabby and younger sister Tatum, a freshman and member of Lady Lex’s varsity team, left the family farm and went to the gym instead. With Gabby steering the ship, the Lady Lex JV outfit upset West Holmes later that night. Tatum and the varsity team put up a fight before falling 50-41 to the highly-regarded Knights in the nightcap.
“They had their plane tickets and they decided to stay home,” said Cade Stover, who was in town to watch his sisters coach and play against Ashland earlier this week. “It says a lot about them.”
A 2020 Lexington graduate and former Ohio Cardinal Conference Player of the Year, Gabby played two seasons at NAIA Lourdes University in northwest Ohio. She was a member of the Wolverine-Hoosier Athletic Conference All-Newcomer Team as a freshman and averaged 9.0 points and 7.1 rebounds a game last year but decided to return home and work toward her degree.
Coaching is almost certainly in her future.
“I really do enjoy it,” Gabby said. “I think maybe I get a little too into it. I’ve still got more player in me than I should, but I enjoy it a lot. I loved playing the game. It brought so much joy to me and I like passing that joy on to these girls.
“With our program, building is everything. To see these girls embrace each other and build is a good thing.”
That Gabby has transitioned so seamlessly from player to coach comes as no surprise to her father, Trevor.
“She has always loved the game,” Trevor Stover said. “I’m not surprised she or Tatum would pass (on Ohio State’s CFP semifinal game).
"I was proud of them for making the decision they did.”