2010 Athlete of the Year: Travis Trent
Said Coach Giampapa of West Essex hockey player: He has the ability to take the game wherever it is and just own it.
No matter what time of year it is, there is rarely a day when Travis Trent does not have a hockey stick in his hand.
West Essex head coach Mike Giampapa recalls seeing Trent, now a senior, practicing his craft outside one day last year despite a flood.
"There must have been only 10 feet of driveway and Travis is out there shooting a puck into the net," said Giampapa, who lives only a couple of doors down in Fairfield from the Trent family. "It's everyday he is out there shooting the puck."
Even when the ice melts outside and it is in the 90s, Trent is still plugging away at some form of hockey, be it rollerblading or shooting the puck or the ball.
Ever since Trent was able to lace on roller blades, he has talked hockey with the West Essex head coach.
"I can see the driveway and he would walk down or roll down to my house and we would talk," said Giampapa. "He has a constant hockey passion and really set the pace. He's a true hockey fan."
Trent's longtime ice hockey obsession helped lead West Essex to a special 2009-10 season that included several championships, including the Public B state title. Along with the state title, Trent helped West Essex win the New Jersey Ice Hockey League's Central Division and the McInnis Cup.
All of those years of going to the rink for early morning or late night practices paid off in a big way as Trent has developed into the best ice hockey player in Essex County and one of the best in North Jersey and the state of New Jersey.
"He's capable of doing anything, power play and penalty killing," said Giampapa. "His speed of play is outstanding and is heads above all the other players."
Last season as a junior, Trent accumulated 35 goals and 37 assists for 72 points as West Essex finished with a 19-5-4. The Knights defeated Hopewell Valley, 3-0, at the Prudential Center for the state championship in March.
"It was an incredible feeling and you just want to get back there," said Trent, who said he hopes to be at the same place, at the same time in 2011.
Trent added the team's ultimate goal was to win the state title, but at the minimum to show that they belonged in the state title.
"We just wanted to play well," said the soft-spoken Trent, who gave plenty of credit to the state championship to the seniors from last season, especially John Fox, one of the other top scorers on the 2009-10 team that developed into a lethal combination for the Knights.
For Giampapa, the best aspect of Trent's game is that he can reverse the flow.
"Travis is really a game changer and has the ability to change the game on a dime," said Giampapa. "He has the ability to take the game wherever it is and just own it."
At 5' 5" and only 135 pounds as a junior, he was able to do it even while being double-teamed against bigger and stronger players.
When asked what is Trent's best skill, the Knights head coach could not think of one only to say that he has got it all.
"Travis has got the whole game," said Giampapa. "He sees the whole ice. He has speed and can accelerate down the ice. He's just a great player."
With the state championship in his pocket, Trent and the rest of the Knights are looking for another one.
In the offseason, Trent hit the weight room with even more fervor and put 15 pounds of muscle on.
"He's improved on his strength and hit the weight room and his slapshot has really improved," said Giampapa.
Giampapa said with graduation of seniors, especially Fox, the opposition is focusing more on the forward and doing anything to stop him. "I am trying to get the referees to see that they are jamming him," said Giampapa, whose team is 5-4-1 as of this week after a tough loss to Chatham.
Trent has looked at several colleges to further his ice hockey career, including Rowan University, Montclair State University and Penn State University-Brandywine.
The Knights senior has not decided on a major, but is interested in business or engineering.
On thing he does know is he wants to continue to play ice hockey, be it frigid or 90 degrees.