I noticed the tweet: Trevor Gaines would have been 34.
That tweet stung.
Trevor was won of the greatest players to ever wear the green and gold for the Catamounts.Standing somewhere around 6-foot-5, he was relatively undersized, but Trevor played huge and somehow managed to lead the country in offensive rebounding as a senior in 2001-2002.
They say you can’t teach size – but you also can’t teach desire, and Trevor’s desire was bigger than any 7-footer. It was a desire that began as a child, and carried through to high school, where he paid his own way to attend a Five Star Basketball Camp, where the Cats found him.
Perhaps Trevor put in his most memorable performance during a 2002 America East semi-final tournament game against Maine. At that point, the Cats had never made the NCAA tournament, and they were hungry.
Trevor was the hungriest.
In the second half of that game, Trevor put
the Cats on his back, scoring 20 points and ripping down 12 rebounds while scoring at will against Maine 7-footer Justin Rowe, one of the top shot blockers in the country. Trevor’s effort should be mandatory viewing for any basketball player, or anyone for that matter.
Simply, Trevor put on a clinic.
Unfortunately, it wasn’t enough, and the Cats lost a heartbreaker. Trevor collapsed on his way to the locker room. It was a painful defeat. In those days, there was no NIT bid for the regular season conference champions, which they were. Trevor had played his last college game.
But Trevor wasn’t done with basketball.
Trevor went on to Minnesota Timberwolves camp and impressed. Later, he crisscrossed the globe playing professional ball. Though Trevor had failing kidneys, he hooped on.
Meanwhile, the Cats played in three consecutive NCAA tournaments. Trevor wasn’t on the floor for those games, but he was a very large component of them. Trevor set the stage for his teammates. With his inspired played, Trevor showed them what it takes to be a champion and taught them that opportunities should not be taken for granted.
Tragically, Trevor passed away from a heart attack while playing in a pick-up basketball game in the summer of 2010. If Trevor wasn’t playing hoops, he wasn’t living.
Coach Becker should be applauded for retiring Trevor’s jersey.
However, more should be done to honor Trevor. An image of Trevor should be courtside. The sting will always be there, but that will help. Trevor Gaines deserves it – and everyone should know that he gave everything to the game and the Vermont Catamounts.
Jon Hart is the author of Man versus Ball: One Ordinary Guy and His Extraordinary Sports Adventures, www.manversusball.com.