How does one go about describing Trevor Ball? It is hard to simplify a person as complex as Trevor into a page or two of text. As his family, we did not know the true extent of his impact on the people he knew during his short life. We always knew that Trevor was a kind and friendly kid, but thought that Trevor should get out more and meet more people. His wide circle of friends really didn’t become apparent until after his untimely death. The kind words and shared grief felt by so many was humbling. We fortunately had the pleasure of Trevor’s company for 19 years and we are honored that so many people, who had known him for a much shorter time, had such a high level of love and respect for our son. Trevor was a gift from God that we were fortunate enough to enjoy for those very special 19 years. We love Trevor and are very proud of his many accomplishments.
Trevor’s first day came late on the night of July 19, 1995 in Missoula, Montana. His Mom had just completed a continuing education course (after a full day of work) and began to feel like something wasn’t quite right. We made a very fast trip down Missoula’s South Hill from our house to Community Hospital. Trevor wasted no time once we arrived at the hospital, joining us within a couple hours. There we were with our precious bundle, ready to start a new chapter in life. We were joined by Travis 15 months later and spent the next four years in Missoula, growing as a young family.
We moved to Helena in time for Trevor to start kindergarten at Jim Darcy Elementary. Trevor enjoyed books and being read to by his Mom, so the transition to school was an exciting time for him. During grade school, Trevor was chosen to participate in the PEAK Gifted and Talented Program. Trevor gained many valuable experiences and friends during his time at PEAK. Trevor just happened to be the only student at Jim Darcy who was participating in PEAK one year and a special bus was sent to pick him up once a week. He looked so small and alone as the bus drove up North Montana Street taking him on his solo ride to Carroll College. Many of the teachers at Jim Darcy had a huge impact on Trevor and encouraged his passion for learning. Trevor received several awards while at Jim Darcy including the American Legion School Award and the Presidential Academic Fitness Award. Trevor excelled at Jim Darcy and carried his love of learning with him to CR Anderson Middle School. He set his sights on being one of the best students in middle school and found the teachers at CRA to be very helpful in his academic progress. He did especially well at CRA and was awarded the President’s Award for Educational Excellence and the 4.0 medal for perfect 4.0 grades his entire time at CRA.
High school opened a whole new chapter for Trevor and he was determined to maintain his 4.0 standing. It took many long, hard hours of study for him to keep his perfect grades. Science and Math were always his strong suits and he excelled under the exceptional teachers at Capital. Biology became his best subject, but it took many hours of studying every day at the kitchen table. Trevor belonged to a special group of friends who called themselves the “Nerd Herd”. They were a group of very smart and capable kids who studied and encouraged each other to succeed. Trev graduated Summa Cum Laude from Capital High School as a class Valedictorian. He received many awards during his high school years including a membership in the National Honor Society, Capital’s Full Boar Award, Exchange Club’s Youth of the Month, Best Science Student Scholarship awarded by BuzzBallz, the Air Force Recruiting Services Mathematics and Science Award, a Montana University System Honor Scholarship, and the Governor’s Best and Brightest Award, along with many others. Trevor was enrolled in the Chemical and Biological Engineering program at MSU at the time of his death.
Trevor was active in many school and community service projects. He and Travis grew their hair out for the “Locks of Love” program while in grade school. Their hair was so long they were often mistaken for girls. PEAK kept Trevor busy during grade school with a number of community service projects. Trevor learned the impact of volunteering while at PEAK. Trev helped out at the Humane Society during their Spay and Neuter clinics and sold raffle tickets for Head Start. He was also a People to People Student Ambassador travelling to Italy, Greece and Sicily to learn the culture and helped with a wild sea turtle conservation project. One summer Trev spent a month cleaning trails and other projects with the Montana Conservation Corp. He made a comment about giving a stubborn tree the “coup de grace” and this became the team’s motto. The team leaders had bandanas printed up with “coup de grace” as a remembrance of the fun they had that summer. Trevor was involved in many clubs in high school including: Math Club (where his brownies became legendary), ECO Club, and National Honor Society, where he was vice president.
Trevor was a very competitive kid both academically and athletically. He loved to run in the grass during YMCA soccer when he was 4 or 5 years old. He would chase the ball and then stop, cupping his hands around his eyes like binoculars, scoping out the field while the play continued on around him. We would yell and point, trying to get him back in the game, but he would calmly survey the field with his “binoculars” and join the play when he felt he was ready.
Trevor wrestled for many years with the Helena Wrestling Club starting when he was 5 years old. Freestyle tournaments across the state kept us in a gym November through April. Trevor had the talent to wrestle at the regional level where he wrestled kids from across the Western USA. Wrestling six months a year took its toll on Trev and he hung up his shoes in the fifth grade. After much cajoling, Trev went back to wrestling folkstyle with the Helena BearCats middle school team. He enjoyed the low key aspect of the BearCats and continued wrestling into high school for the Capital High Bruins. Trevor went to State and lettered all three years he wrestled for Capital and was awarded the Capital Character Award twice and the Iron Man Award twice. Trevor had many exceptional wrestling coaches and he learned many important life lessons from them. He tried to give back what so many others had given him by volunteering for the Helena Wrestling Club.
Trevor was into all kinds of other sports as well. He raced motocross, skied on the Great Divide All- Mountain Team, played Small Fry football and earned a Varsity letter in football for Capital. He even tried his hand at YMCA basketball and fencing. Paintballing with his friends brought him great joy. He put his love of strategy to work at paintball and relished capturing the flag.
The sport that really captured Trev’s heart was rugby. He started playing for the Helena Hooligans when he was a freshman weighing in at a whopping 100 pounds. He played many different positions in the backline, playing scrum half his senior year. He was chosen twice to represent Montana at the regional rep side tournaments. Like most things he encountered and enjoyed, Trevor became a student of rugby, learning the rules and strategy of the game. Rugby is a thinking man’s game and Trev appreciated many of the subtler aspects of the game. We had a phenomenal time during the 2014 spring break, attending a Rugby World Cup qualifier match in Atlanta where the USA qualified for the World Cup by defeating Uruguay. Trevor and Travis had the privilege of meeting many members of the USA Eagles and getting their photo taken with the Web Ellis Cup.
Trevor had many hobbies and interests. Medieval history and arms always fascinated him and he collected replica swords, armor, and cross bows. He once made a working trebuchet for an English class assignment. We hauled it to the park across the street from the high school and put on a demonstration for his class. To the surprise of everyone, the trebuchet worked like a charm, launching softballs half way across the park. Being able to hunt in Africa with a cross bow was a dream come true for Trev. We spent hours looking through the armories at the Tower of London and Windsor Castle during a trip to England. Trevor appreciated the craftsmanship required to produce these weapons as works of art and was fascinated by the ingenuity used to craft many of the pieces.
Trev really enjoyed metal work, welding, woodworking, and creating in general. In high school welding class, Trevor finished his required welding assignments early, so he could practice other welding skills typically taught in more advanced classes. His welding teacher was very accommodating to Trev and helped him develop a love of metal work. Trevor’s face would always shine when he brought home a project from shop class. He could have easily been the kid who spent all day in shop classes. One of his ambitions from a very early age was to set up a forge and hammer out some wrought iron creations. He also enjoyed creating pottery pieces of all types. He was very creative and liked experimenting with different glaze effects. His ceramics teacher, like most of Trevor’s teachers at Capital High School, let Trevor work at his own pace and build his skills. Trevor always tried to take advantage of these opportunities to grow.
Trevor enjoyed all types of food but seemed to have an affinity for chocolate and Coca-Cola. He would mix two packets of Instant Breakfast in a glass of milk every morning. There was almost never a day when he didn’t drink at least 3 or 4 cans of Coke. At the World of Coke in Atlanta, the company has every beverage they manufacture from around the world available for sampling. Trevor of course tried all 64 different types, he couldn’t resist the challenge. He played saxophone in junior high and always had a love of music. His taste in music was very eclectic and he always liked to rip off a riff or two on his electric guitar or keyboard. Reading was a passion for Trevor and he read hundreds of books during his lifetime. Mythology, regardless of the source, always fascinated Trev and Athena was his guardian goddess. Athena, as the goddess of war and wisdom, was a perfect fit for Trevor.
Trevor loved to travel and see how other people around the world lived. He was fortunate enough to travel to many places and was an excellent travel companion. Annual trips to Silverwood in Idaho were a much anticipated summer ritual. Spring break was generally reserved for travel in the USA, but being in Mexico one year during the Easter celebrations created many lasting memories. Getting to celebrate his 19th birthday in London this summer was a special treat for all of us. Having a hard cider in the oldest pub in London and having “Happy Birthday” played during the changing of the guard at Buckingham Palace were highlights of the trip for him. Ten days of hunting in South Africa opened a whole new world of experiences for Trevor. He was able to combine his love of cultural inquiry with the strategy necessary for stalking wild game into one trip. Travelling with Trevor was always a joy and will be one of the hardest activities to do without him.
On the afternoon of September 1, 2014, Trevor drowned in the Madison River near Ennis Lake while swimming with his friends from the Honors College at Montana State University. What is truly sad is all the potential left unfulfilled. We can only guess at what Trevor may have accomplished in his life. Regardless of his accomplishments, the world is now an emptier place without Trevor. He will truly be missed by all that knew and loved him. He will always have a place in our hearts.