CEDAR RAPIDS — It was a proposal that came out of left field.
Actually, it was a proposal in left field and the site where Cedar Rapids Kennedy assistant baseball coach Connor Bartosh and Stacia Walter decided they were officially dating.
Bartosh took a knee and asked Walter to marry him last Saturday at Herkelman Field. She accepted the surprise engagement after three years together.
“She thought I was proposing to her in Colorado in August,” said Bartosh, an engagement specialist at Polk Alternative Education Center. “I wanted to surprise her and do something a little different. I thought about that idea, taking it back to Kennedy where it all started.”
The plan started in January. Members of both families were aware of his intentions, as well as Kennedy Coach Bret Hoyer and Athletics Director Aaron Stecker. Walter’s family traveled from Illinois for a surprise party after the question. Bartosh had friends stationed in the dugout to take pictures.
“They were excited,” Bartosh said of the families. “They were pretty pumped. Her parents were pretty pumped. They thought going to the field was awesome.”
Walter was told they were taking pictures at home, but the itinerary changed when Bartosh claimed the photographer was running late. Bartosh then said Hoyer needed him to check on a malfunctioning scoreboard. Walter admitted being slightly confused and annoyed before thinking it was weird she was asked to help. It all turned to shock in the outfield.
“Total disbelief,” Walter said. “He grabbed my hand before he hit a knee and said a few things and I was like, ‘Oh my gosh. It can’t be real. It can’t be real.’ Then he hit a knee. I said yes before he even finished talking.”
Bartosh was a senior on Kennedy’s 2010 Class 4A state championship and well into his nine-year coaching career by 2017. Walter had played softball in high school. Both share an affection for baseball and softball.
They recalled the day it was apparent they were in a relationship. They went to Kennedy to take batting practice. As the two were playing catch in the outfield that day, Bartosh made a revelation that started a new chapter in their lives, which happened again at that same spot Saturday.
“As we were hitting, he was like, ‘Are we dating?’” Walter said. “We were just messing around and hitting and playing catch. That’s when we made everything official that we were dating.
“It’s very cool.”
Bartosh is a fan of the New York Yankees, displaying their flag in a garden at home. Walter is a Chicago Cubs fan. One of their first dates was a Brewers-Cubs game in Milwaukee. The two have made regular trips to attend area Major League Baseball games.
“We’ve gone to a few games at Wrigley,” Bartosh said. “We’ve gone up to Minnesota to a few games and then Milwaukee. We go to ballgames together all around.”
Some of the games are even closer to home. Walter attends many of the freshman games, watching Bartosh coach. She said she enjoys seeing him in competition and the rapport he has with the players.
“I go to as many as I can,” Walter said. “It’s so fun to watch him coach. Just seeing him interact with all the kids. His love for the game comes out when he’s coaching on the field.”
Hoyer noted coaches impact more people in a single season than most do in an entire lifetime. They can’t do that without a selfless and encouraging partner.
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“I have enjoyed watching their relationship grow from one baseball season to the next,” Hoyer said. “Stacia is very supportive.”
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