By Tom Lang
Special for Second Half
It’s not enough to recently-graduated Grandville High senior Brianna Trepins to play lacrosse well. She additionally wants to see the sport grow and prosper in west Michigan – and she knows that begins with young kids in the community.
She also knows too well, from personal experience, that coming from less financial means than most peers can keep young girls from giving the sport a try in the first place. Often, it’s as simple as the stigma of not having as nice of a stick as other players.
Trepins, who will continue her lacrosse career at Aquinas College, has helped coach youth in the community. Many times young girls are willing to try the sport but have to borrow a community center stick that’s – let’s say – not top-of-the-line equipment and well-used past its prime.
“Most of the pockets weren’t good, and the girls had to learn how to play with these sticks,” Trepins said. “When they see another girl playing with the brand new, greatest versions of these really cool sticks, that’s hard on them. I could relate. I didn’t have the best equipment growing up, so I sympathized, and I began taking sticks and restringing them – and it all went from there.”
Trepins’ discovery led to starting a business and online store last November – LaxZoo. She sells T-shirts and other lacrosse items to pay for materials to restring lacrosse sticks that people donate. She also repairs sticks of teammates and other players, and the profits from her small fees go to string material for more donated sticks – and in the short term some of the profits have gone to COVID-19 relief efforts.
“I have a ton of respect for entrepreneurs in general, because I think that takes a certain type of bravery – and the fact that she has done that at such a young age; it shows me how much she loves lacrosse and wants to incorporate it into her life moving forward,” said her Grandville coach, Alexandra Vanden Bosch. “And to do all that, she’s taking a big personal risk to start her own business. That’s so huge.”
Trepins first attempted lacrosse in 8th grade, later than most teammates.
“When I first tried lacrosse, I didn’t like it that much,” Trepins said. “I had to wear a skirt, which I thought was weird.”
But she made some good friends and tried out again as a freshman, and made the varsity team. Before the end of the season, she became a starter on defense.
“Throughout the year my coach kept giving me some opportunities to go out on the field and show what I could do as a player, and I really didn’t have that before,” she added. “To have someone really believe in me and believe in my abilities was kind of life-changing. So, going on the field and actually feeling confident playing a sport was an amazing feeling that I never wanted to end. The program at Grandville is great, and my teammates were so supportive.”
Vanden Bosch made it clear Trepins earned it all.
“She just blossomed so quickly and got that opportunity to start on defense, and that was her natural athleticism,” the coach said. “Then when she became passionate about lacrosse because of that, she made the most improvement in between offseasons that I’ve ever seen in a player. Through that she developed leadership, and we named her as a captain her junior year. When I say hardest worker in the room, that is her.”
With the cancellation of her senior lacrosse season after all MHSAA spring sports shut down because of COVID-19, Trepins shifted gears to prepare for college, which had begun over the winter with applying for scholarships. A significant award came from the local Community Choice Credit Union’s Foundation, a $5,000 grant as part of a statewide $100,000 annual program the credit union started 11 years ago that has grown to $1.2 million in educational support for students who are focused on supporting their Michigan communities.
She plans to study pre-dental at Aquinas College – in part because she respects the work of a cousin who is a dental hygienist, but mostly because she has had her own issues growing up with teeth complications that still cause her pain in her jaw on a fairly regular basis. She is missing an adult tooth under a baby tooth that has remained in place as the family cannot afford dental insurance.
“If you looked inside my mouth, my teeth are a little weird on one side (looks concaved),” she said. “My family could never afford to fix it when I was growing up, so I want to be able to fix things like that for other people. I guess it’s quite common, and I want to help other kids when they’re growing up. There are a few options to fix it, but they are all so costly. … I just kind of have to deal with it.”
As to what Trepins has learned from starting and running a small business:
“It feels almost like a reality check at some points but also unreal in all honesty. You always see people with their businesses and think, ‘Wow, I could do that too.’ But the truth is running a business takes a lot of time and hard work for it to really start to get off the ground. But at the same time, every time you have an order that gets placed or you see someone using something that you've made – for example getting to see the little girls run around with the sticks I've strung for them – it feels a little bit unreal, and like all the work that you've put into it is actually paying off.
PHOTOS: (Top) Grandville's Brianna Trepins, left, maintains possession of the ball during a game earlier in her career; her senior season was canceled due to COVID-19. (Middle) Trepins strings and shows off a restrung lacrosse stick. (Photos courtesy of Brianna Trepins.)
The addition of limited seeding at the Regional level of the Girls Lacrosse Tournament headlined actions taken by the Representative Council of the Michigan High School Athletic Association during its Fall Meeting on Dec. 2 in East Lansing.
Generally, the Council takes only a few actions during its Fall Meeting, with topics often introduced for additional consideration and action during its meetings in winter and spring. This Fall Meeting saw the Council take only three actions, with additional discussion centered on topics expected to receive more specific consideration at MHSAA sport committee meetings this winter and the Council’s meetings in March and May.
The Council approved a Girls Lacrosse Committee proposal to seed the top two teams in every Regional, and place those top seeds on opposite sides of the bracket beginning with the 2023 season. The two teams to be seeded will be determined by using the MHSAA’s Michigan Power Ratings (MPR) formula, which takes into account success and strength of schedule and is used currently to provide seeding information in boys lacrosse, girls and boys basketball, girls and boys soccer, and ice hockey. Only the top two teams in girls lacrosse will be seeded and separated; the other teams in each Regional will be placed on their brackets by random draw.
The Council also approved a Boys Lacrosse Committee recommendation that will allow athletes to participate in up to five quarters per day between teams at multiple levels – for example, varsity and junior varsity – also beginning with the 2023 season. For boys lacrosse multi-team tournaments, if two school teams (for example, the varsity and junior varsity) are at the same event, athletes may play in no more halves or quarters than what is being played by the school’s highest-level team that day. (Example: if the varsity team is playing three 30-minute half games for a total of six halves, a player playing both varsity and JV on the same day can play in six total halves that day.) The “fifth quarter” rule, by allowing athletes to compete on two levels on the same day, is intended to help programs that are otherwise lacking enough participants to field teams at multiple levels.
Taking into account the wintery weather conditions experienced by athletes during the MHSAA alpine ski season, the Council approved a Sports Medicine Advisory Committee recommendation to adopt the “MHSAA Competition and Practice Guidelines for Cold Weather,” which are specific to alpine skiing. The guidelines include a windchill chart and cold standards for ambient temperature. This proposal also was supported by the Ski Committee and will go into effect for the 2022-23 season.
Remaining discussions focused on results from this fall’s Update Meeting survey completed by administrators during the MHSAA’s annual presentations across the state. The Council considered survey data including on questions related to the out-of-season travel rule. The Council also discussed results of a fall survey completed by member school athletic directors and head varsity football coaches concerning ongoing conversations about scheduling and playoff format. Following the Football Committee meeting in January 2023, an ad hoc committee comprised of members of the MHSAA staff, Representative Council, Michigan Interscholastic Athletic Administrators Association (MIAAA) and Michigan High School Football Coaches Association (MHSFCA) will be convened for further discussion on these topics, with their report to be provided to the Council during its March 2023 meeting.
The Fall Meeting saw the appointment of Westland John Glenn athletic director Jason Malloy for a first-two-year term to the 19-person Council, and the re-appointment of Bay City Western principal Judy Cox for a second two-year term. Malloy previously was appointed to finish a partial term as one of the two representatives of member junior high/middle schools.
The Council reelected Scott Grimes, superintendent for Grand Haven Area Public Schools, as its president; and Vic Michaels, director of physical education and athletics for the Archdiocese of Detroit, as secretary-treasurer. Brighton High School athletic director John Thompson was elected Council vice president.
The Representative Council is the legislative body of the MHSAA. All but five members are elected by member schools. Four members are appointed by the Council to facilitate representation of females and minorities, and the 19th position is occupied by the Superintendent of Public Instruction or designee.
The MHSAA is a private, not-for-profit corporation of voluntary membership by more than 1,500 public and private senior high schools and junior high/middle schools which exists to develop common rules for athletic eligibility and competition. No government funds or tax dollars support the MHSAA, which was the first such association nationally to not accept membership dues or tournament entry fees from schools. Member schools which enforce these rules are permitted to participate in MHSAA tournaments, which attract more than 1.3 million spectators each year.