September 19, 2021
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'Team Trevor' A football team with a heart

  • Cougar #20 Trevor Barella ran the ball in for a touchdown as his teammates rallied around him. Photo by Robert Grant

By: Stephanie Derammelaere
October 25, 2019

First Photo: Trevor Barella, a senior at Rancho Cotate High School, entertains the student body by singing "House Party" by Sam Hunt at the Homecoming Rally. The rally was held in the gym at the TAG Building in the afternoon on Fri, October 18. Trevor also sang the National Anthem with the choir prior to the football game and was in for a play at the beginning of the football game and scored a touchdown. Rancho played against Maria Carrillo that night and defeated them 55-21.
Photo by Jane Peleti


While stories in the media abound with tales of bullying and harassment, often on the part of young people, it is a breath of fresh air to share an account of young people coming together to lift up and inspire one of their own, to give hope and joy to someone who can use it most.

On Oct. 19 Trevor Barella scored a touchdown at the Rancho Cotate High School homecoming football game against Maria Carrillo High School. While several touchdowns were scored during the game, what set this one apart was that Trevor just received a uniform and started practicing this week. However, he is not new to the team. Having Down Syndrome, he has not been able to play on the team himself but has been working as the hydration technician for the football team for three years. 

“Trevor has been doing the hydration technician job for the football team since sophomore year, so this is his third year doing this job,” says Stacey Barella, Trevor’s mother. “The first year he had started having some passing out, or syncope episodes where we couldn’t figure out what was happening. That lasted through the first season so my husband and I have sat at the practices every night just to make sure he’s OK health-wise and that it doesn’t interrupt football practices if something occurs.”

Finally last year Trevor was diagnosed with a rare artery disease, called Moyamoya disease, in which certain arteries in the brain are constricted. Blood flow is blocked by the constriction and also by blood clots. Once it was determined that his right carotid artery had completely closed, he had brain surgery in August of 2018. 

Because of some complications with the wound healing, he had to have a second surgery in April of this year. It has taken him almost a year to fully recover and regain his energy and health and be able to withstand a full day of school again.

After his initial diagnosis the whole football team rallied around Trevor, throwing him a support party, visiting him at home and inviting him to hang out with them. With this being his last year in high school, the team invited him to do the coin toss with the team captains a couple weeks ago, at which point Stacey mentioned to the coach that Trevor had been asking if he could run a play. The coach had already been thinking about that and suggested an exhibition play of running a touchdown. 

“We had to jump a few hoops in terms of calling his neurosurgeon and getting clearance for him to run a play, knowing that it would be a no-contact play,” says Barella. “They talked to the other coach and referees and everyone was on board.”

The whole week before the homecoming game, Trevor practiced with the team and received his own uniform.

“When the coach gave him his gear Monday, he walked out with me to go to the car and he looked at me and said, ‘Mom, this is so special,’” says Barella. “Because he’s out there with the team every day doing the water, he literally is already part of the team. But for him to be able to put on the pads and the helmet and his own jersey – to do the full suit up – and to be able to run a play on the field, is just a dream come true for him. And the team is so good to him. They really are like a second family to us and especially to him.”

According to Barella, the team was just as excited as Trevor to help in running the touchdown and the practices the past week were especially energetic and spirited. The exhibition play kicked off the homecoming game, giving the event an uplifting and emotional start that will surely remain in the hearts and minds of all who attended.

“It went better than I could have ever imagined,” said Barella, her voice heavy with emotion. “He is still emotional about the whole thing which is pretty awesome. The other team had already agreed with our team which way to run the play and how they were going to do it to keep it safe for Trevor. It was pretty amazing. Everybody was in tears that know him. Even a couple of the coaches had tears. We also had a ton of friends and family come that wouldn’t normally come to a football game – it was pretty spectacular.”