To say Mercy soccer coach Donna Trost likes team-building activities would be like saying its most famous graduate, Abby Wambach, likes scoring goals.
Truth is, Trost loves doing things to make her players feel closer as teammates and friends.
“You’re given family but you can also make your own family,” Mercy senior forward Emily Wade said, repeating something Trost tells her troops.
Kate Smith remembers that season when Trost bought all 22 players plastic animal figures and then wrote a description to each as to why she chose that particular animal for them. When Kate’s younger sister, Kelly, was on the squad Trost not only took the time to find out what every player’s favorite song was, but she compiled them onto a “mixed tape.” The Monarchs listened to it on the bus to each road match.
Then there was that time during their usual run on a hot summer day that Trost had her players take a break at the deli they usually just ran past. She bought them all a cool treat and even had them hustle back ice cream to a couple of injured players who couldn’t go on the run.
“No man left behind!” said Kate Smith, a 24-year-old who played four seasons (two junior varsity/two varsity) under Trost.
Trost is the latest winner of the Coaches Who Care Award, a joint initiative by the Democrat and Chronicle and Compeer Rochester that recognizes top high school coaches. The 43-year-old history teacher is in her ninth season coaching Mercy’s varsity. That includes Section V championships in 2008, her second season, and 2011.
“What we teach on the field is what I would like them to translate into real life, working together as a team for a common goal, whether you win or lose and how you deal with those setbacks,” said Trost, a graduate of Letchworth Central and SUNY Oswego who is married and has three children. ‘You need to be a positive influence on them.”
That doesn’t mean always being nice.
Trost is a stickler for being on time, so if a player is late for practice, there are consequences. “You want an employee to show up on time to be at work,” she said.
Kate Smith is the oldest of three sisters who played for Trost. That includes Kelly, 19, a sophomore at Notre Dame, and Kristen, a Mercy senior.
“Probably all three girls’ greatest memories of Mercy involve Donna Trost in some way,” said their mother, Kathy, who along with her daughters nominated Trost for the award. “She’s the teacher you go see when you come (home after graduating). She’s the coach that you want to find out how the team’s doing.”
Trost, who coached 11 years of modified and JV soccer at Mercy before becoming varsity coach in 2007, is big on team work and accountability, too.
“We win a lot of games, but we also lose a lot of games. How do you handle that? Do you blame other people? Do you blame the officials for the bad calls or do you say, I should have stepped up my game. That penalty kick was my fault,” Trost said. “I try to teach them to be responsible for their own actions.”
The Monarchs have done annual fund-raisers, such as beast cancer walks, but each fall they also host a practice jointly with School of the Holy Childhood. The non-profit agency in Rochester enriches the lives of people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Trost started what has become a tradition years ago when she had a player whose parent worked there.
“I think she’s a great role model,” the Smith girls’ father, Gary, said of Trost. “We’d like (our kids) to turn out like Donna.”
About this feature
The Coaches Who Care Award recognizes individuals who’ve shown a commitment to players that goes beyond only developing a winning team. Eligible coaches must work at local high schools at the modified, junior-varsity or varsity level. E-mail nominations to JDIVERON@Gannett.com. Please cite specific examples in your nomination. The coach of the year will be honored at the Oct. 29 Compeer Luncheon in Rochester. This year’s special guest is NFL Hall-of-Fame quarterback, Jim Kelly.