Tuesday, March 28, 2023

Darrion Trammell: A Story of Hope

I can list 100 reasons why St. Ignatius College Prep in San Francisco, CA ought to be celebrating the success 2018 graduate Darrion Trammell. The Marin City native played three years on the varsity squad. He remains in close touch with his high school coach who made his way to Louisville where he saw Darrion make the game winning free throw to defeat Creighton University in the Elite Eight. The 5'10 point guard has led the Aztecs to their first Final Four appearance in program history. We can talk about the 10,000 hour rule, the fact that he had no college offers out of SI or the adversity that he has overcome. He has demonstrated resilience, perseverance and more, but the reason I write this blog post is because of what I think Darrion offers: HOPE.

In his post game interview, Darrion said "It's all about believing in yourself. I feel like I put in the work."

At lunch today, one of the SI basketball coaches became very emotional recalling the truth of this matter. He said, "Darrion shrugged his shoulders and said what is 100% true. He has always put in the work."

Darrion added, "This is my journey and what I've been through. It's a blessing to be here. I've been dreaming of this my whole life. I'm grateful to be here and I appreciate everyone for believing in me. I'm super excited to be here right now, I can't put it into words."

Darrion's journey at SI began as a member of the the freshman A basketball team in ninth grade. To this day, the coach cites that group as his favorite of all time. Go in his classroom and you will see this truth is made evident. Their photo still hangs on his classroom wall (and fun fact, it's not even hanging at SI). When I asked this coach what made Darrion and his teammates so special, he said "Super coachable, skilled guys that played their tails off." Darrion was moved up to varsity for the playoffs that year. 

Darrion was first team all league in the WCAL his junior and senior years. He had a great career with the Wildcats. His coaches, teachers and athletic administrators have nothing but positive things to say. Darrion was a respectful teammate and player. No one worked harder. He had God-given talent but he also stands 5'10" on a very good day. His college counselor told me, "I was there with him when he kept getting letters that said We're interested but we don't have a spot...we don't think we can make it work." I could tell—even five years later—that was not an easy time or experience for Darrion or his counselor. No doubt, beating those odds makes what has happened that much sweeter.

To see Darrion make that final free throw to win the game—after missing the first one, to behold him standing on the gym floor with his coaches and teammates as the clock turned zero, to hear him speak in a postgame interview— it was beautiful. It's remarkable. It's unmistakable. Any and everyone who knows him understands we are all witnesses to what he hoped for. 

People say "seeing is believing." But I would argue the Madness of March has  revealed more than one could hope for. His story must be shared because it's not often we get to see a person's dream come true. What Darrion has achieved offers hope in real time. How humbling is that?!

I took this photo on Darrion's senior night game in 2018. You gotta love the homemade posters.
Look at how many seniors were on that team!

Darrion was in my Sports and Spirituality class his senior year. I'm grateful he had the experience to reflect deeply upon the the Jesuit motto of "Finding God in All Things." Obviously, that includes basketball.

The Lenten Meditations: Week 5 · Hopelessness and Judas Iscariot · was created by another Jesuit 
institution, The Faber Institute. The narrator, Tara Ludwig offers us an important question: Where have you experienced the temptation of hopelessness? What or who have you given up hope in?  She concludes with this quote by Thomas Merton. "Let us speak words of hope. Be human in this most inhuman of ages; guard the image of man for it is the image of God.”

Let us speak words of hope. Lead us not into the temptation of hopelessness. Let us share stories and live in hope...with hope. It's makes love and faith that much more real. 

Grateful this tourney has allowed us to look no further than the example of Darrion Trammell. He is loved by his family, his community in Marin City, his alma mater of St. Ignatius College Prep and more. And the faith he put in himself to help his team achieve greatness is humbling and inspiring. Good luck Darrion and SDSU in the Final Four. Your SI coach will be there.

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