TUSCUMBIA — Dozens of people from the Covenant Christian community showed up Monday evening to the school’s baseball field, not to play or watch a game but rather to pray.
David Lawler, the Covenant Christian baseball coach, is being hospitalized after suffering a stroke May 8, according to the school.
Hal Mills, the Covenant Christian athletic director, said Lawler had progressed to rehab at Huntsville Hospital when doctors discovered blood clots. Lawler was placed in the intensive care unit and as of Sunday was listed in critical condition. Mills said Lawler had successful surgery Monday to remove the clots.
Mills said he’s been getting updates from Lawler’s wife, Stephanie, who teaches at Covenant Christian.
“They’re very faithful,” Mills said. “They’re believers in Christ and they’re leaning on him.”
Those at Monday’s vigil were invited to pray for the couple and their three children as well as Lawler’s parents and brother.
Approximately 100 children and adults spread out between the pitcher’s mound and shallow center and right field, listening to Bible passages from James and Isaiah read over the loudspeaker. They also heard several contemporary Christian songs such as O Come to the Altar, Run to the Father and Way Maker.
Lawler, who Mills said is in his mid-40s, has coached the baseball team for the past three seasons and is president of the school’s booster club.
Hunter Lopez, who was a freshman this past year, wore his white Covenant Christian baseball jersey to the vigil.
Lopez has played baseball since he was a small child and came to Covenant Christian in eighth grade.
“He teaches you what is right and puts you in shape,” Lopez said, calling Lawler an “all-around good baseball coach. One of my favorites I’ve ever had.”
Mills said Lawler asked about his facility priorities when Mills became AD, and Mills told him the school needed an improved weight room where it could consolidate its equipment. Lawler led the effort to complete that project.
“He’s just done whatever we need to do around the school, especially with athletics,” Mills said. “He’s a stalwart, the backbone of the school.”
Mills said Lawler graduated from Sheffield High in the early 1990s and works for Sheffield Utilities. Mills likes to consult Lawler and longtime coach Bill Deegan when there’s a big decision to make.
“I kid him all the time that he’s my assistant athletic director,” Mills said of Lawler. “ … I couldn’t do what I do at Covenant without David.”
At the end of the vigil, everyone spread out in the outfield for a picture the school wants to show Lawler once he recovers.
“I think he’ll be really happy. It’ll show that he did have people praying for him,” Lopez said.
Mills said plenty of baseball coaches in the area might not have been present at Monday’s vigil but know Lawler and are hoping he makes a full recovery.
“They’re involved in this prayer vigil, too,” Mills said.