A normal fall day for a high school baseball coach doesn’t involve much organizing for a season still six months away. There may be some informal workouts to encourage, some weight-room monitoring and some gentle encouragement of students to get to classes.
What the life of a baseball coach never entails are days like what Steve Silva has on his schedule last Tuesday.
Silva was in Harrisburg Tuesday, talking to lawmakers due to vote soon on a bill that will place automated external defibrillators (AEDs) in school buildings statewide. It’s all part of the Penncrest teacher’s efforts to memorialize his son, Aidan, through the Aidan’s Heart Foundation.
And it’s the main reason why after five successful seasons at the helm of the Lions baseball team, Silva tendered his resignation in early September.
Silva’s passion for baseball, which included 11 seasons leading Penncrest’s JV, hasn’t waned through the years. But he is first and foremost a parent, one who endured the death of his 7-year-old son in 2010, an otherwise healthy child who died of sudden cardiac arrest without any prior symptoms or illnesses.
From that tragedy has sprung the efforts of Silva and his family to prevent such a tragic fate for others through increased awareness, screenings and the implementation of potentially life-saving devices in places like schools where they are most likely to do their life-saving work. Tuesday’s session in Harrisburg was to speak on behalf of Senate Bill 606, which would facilitate the installation of AEDs in all schools in the state. The bill, named “Aidan’s Law,” cleared the state senate’s education committee over the summer and is nearing a vote by the appropriations committed to approve it for a vote by the full assembly. It would make Pennsylvania the 20th state with laws regarding the extent of AED availability.
Aidan’s Heart Foundation has also submitted paperwork and is awaiting federal approval on tax-exempt 501(c)(3) status as a nonprofit organization. From smaller events like an annual 5K in Aidan’s honor and screenings for heart function in children around the region, the Silvas – Steve serves as the president, while wife Christy is the executive director – have greatly grown their foundation in the three years since Aidan’s passing.
All that has meant that Silva’s time has been increasingly divided. When something had to give, it was baseball, a decision that was at once difficult, yet automatic.
“As a parent, it was easy,” Silva said. “Personally, giving up baseball was very difficult. I love the kids, I love coaching and I love baseball. That part of it was hard. It’s hard to explain, though, and it’s not to say that that made it a hard decision. As a dad, you always do everything you can for your kids, even if they’re not there every day.”
Silva has steered Penncrest to the postseason each of the last two years and will continue to teach. He told the team in mid-September of his decision, one that was understood by his players, many of whom have contributed to the foundation’s many fundraisers through the years.
While he will no longer be involved with the day-to-day activities of the team, Silva has grown accustomed to the long view of things. The foundation is helping to ensure that kids, not just in the Rose Tree Media School District but across the state, will have the chance for experiences like high school baseball through the all-too-frequently-needed intervention of AEDs.
“We’re hoping that our efforts mean these kids are around so that they can enjoy these programs, and practice and everything that goes with it,” Silva said. “I might not be involved with Penncrest baseball anymore, but it happens so often and every day, and god forbid it happens, but the hope is that our efforts are making sure they are able to enjoy each other.”