Friday November 11, 2011 5:16 PM

Passion And Pride

Rockets season ticket holder and superfan takes us inside her "Rockets Room"

Jason Friedman

HOUSTON - It’s so easy to be cynical these days. No shortage of reasons exist to allow oneself to slide down the slippery slope of inescapable snark and simply become immersed in a pool of bitter, jaded disenchantment.

That realization is no less true in sports than it is in life, unfortunately. Once considered to be a safe haven from the frequently harsh day-to-day grind, the sports world increasingly finds itself no less immune to the adverse effects of the 24-7 news cycle and talk radio bombast that exhibit a disturbing propensity for wreaking havoc upon our saner, more measured sensibilities.

In other words: Being a fan isn’t always as simple as it seems.

But then you meet someone like Judy Stover. She and her husband Jim have been Rockets season ticker holders since the team moved from San Diego to Houston. They’ve followed the team faithfully for more than forty years, basked in the highs and survived the lows, and through it all emerged with a passion for the franchise that seemingly burns as brightly as ever.

Theirs is the purest form of fan devotion; of joy derived come what may – with Judy standing proudly as the most visible flag bearer of the family’s fandom. She has the standard items every super fan would covet – autographed jerseys, bobbleheads, classic magazine covers and ticket stubs – but it is perhaps the possessions unique to her which truly stand out: bedazzled Rockets shoes of her own creation; a giant banner created for viewing parties – each evoking reminders of moments to be treasured and cherished.

Best of all, these items are all made manifest in the Stover’s “Rockets Room” which is exactly what the name implies: an entire room devoted to the family’s collection of memorabilia and memories compiled over the decades.

To watch Judy proudly provide a tour of this room is to be reminded of the simplistic beauty that is supposed to serve as the centerpiece of every sports fan’s existence. There is no cynicism or world-weariness here; just a husband and wife enjoying, appreciating and savoring the journey of supporting the hometown team.

“I’ve been through thick and thin with them,” says Judy. “If you live in a city that has a professional team … and they’ve taken you through the good and the bad and everything, you learn to appreciate the team itself. I just love being in the midst of it. You’re never without an entertaining game. I love the organization. Les Alexander has done wonders in bringing the top-notch guys and we appreciate that. So we’re just returning the favor.”

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