Cody Stahmer always believed that in football, “One guy could change the outcome of the game.”
The junior wideout at Massachusetts Maritime Academy carried these words with him as he recovered from seminoma, a form of testicular cancer most common in young men, at a cancer institute in Boston in 2013.
As he fought to beat the cancer into remission, Stahmer didn’t complain or ask for a helping hand. He wanted to get back to being part of the team, part of the Maritime family, but it was a fight he went through mostly by himself.
It wasn’t until late into Stahmer’s battle that his football coach found out about his illness. He was amazed that a young man could be so independent at a time when he was at his weakest.
“He kept it quiet, he didn’t say much,” Jeremy Cameron said. “Cody told me that he was sick and what was happening. Then he came back in the spring and played spring ball. He looked like he hadn’t missed a beat.”
Despite the toll it took on his body, Stahmer returned to practice just weeks after his final round of chemotherapy.
He had lost weight and was out of football conditioning, but he wanted so bad to return to the game he loved. Soon it became apparent — and Cameron noted — that, “he’s a competitor and nothing was going to stop him from playing.”
As the summer approached, Stahmer began to look like his former self. His weight had returned and he was flashing the skills in camps that many thought he lost.
It was important that this summer was a successful one for him. Finally, he was getting the opportunity to complete a goal of his.
“I worked really hard that summer because I knew a spot would be open with some seniors graduating,” Stahmer said. “I stayed focused on one thing: to get that position spot. I got it, ran with it and am still loving it right now. “
Despite all that he’s overcome, Stahmer said life — like football — is about respecting the process and having the right approach.
“Every day is a new day, and you should be pushing yourself to be better every single day,” he said. “Never give up and never give up hope in yourself. A lot of people are pessimistic about a lot of things because it’s easy to give up on yourself. But you have to believe in yourself to get something accomplished.”
Stahmer scored his first receiving touchdown in the team’s first win of the season in the Eighth Annual Chowder Bowl game against SUNY Maritime on Sept. 11. He would finish the contest with two touchdown grabs and 80 yards through the air.