How Trey Altick’s Character Continues Shaping Young Lives
by Cindy G. Foust
I’m wondering if anybody in the BayouLife nation is ready for spring besides me? I am tired of cold, depressing days with little sunshine and dreary moods. To further the dreariness, just last week I had to attend the funeral of a dear family friend who was a role model to not only me, but countless others throughout his entire life. I suppose in this day and time, I should use the word “role model” loosely, because there seems to be less and less of those around anymore. By way of definition, dictionary.com defines role model as “a person whose behavior, example, or success is or can be emulated by others, especially by younger people.” Hmmmmm (long drawn out expression), let’s see…do I want my children emulating someone that licks a wrecking ball, someone that resists arrest after he gets a DUI while driving his yellow Lamborghini in a drunken stupor at high rates of speed (because that’s an automobile commonly driven by 19-year olds), or someone that beats up his girlfriend after he’s nominated for a Grammy? No, I think I would rather have my children emulate someone like the late Rodney Cannon, whose funeral I attended last week. “Mr. Rodney” was a giant among men, literally and figuratively – tall, strong and deeply devoted to God and his family. No, he didn’t leave behind a Grammy in his trophy case or a television show on the Disney channel; rather, he left something much more valuable…a life well-lived with integrity, with loyalty and with a sense of humor that was unmatched. He was truly an inspiration and his legacy will be treasured for years to come.
Speaking of inspirations, I am quite confident the way I jump around with my column topics, that some readers may wonder where I come up with my ideas. Quite frankly, they usually come from some event or instance in my life, i.e. a funeral. No, really. I won’t say a funeral was my inspiration for this month, but rather, an event that got me to thinking about who my role models actually were…who has actually influenced me…and since my children are never far from my thoughts, who are their role models? All of this thought seemed to coincide with a local high school baseball tournament named for someone who I think many thought of as a role model, Trey Altick. Now, I want to say that I never met Trey, but after my interview with his former coach, Tim O’Neal, I wish that I had. During Coach O’Neal’s first year as head coach at Neville High School, he had the privilege of coaching the young Trey Altick, then a high school freshman. Coach O’Neal described Trey as the “kid” that everyone liked and looked up to, and a coach’s dream because he was so coachable. Tim also called him the “somebody” because he was constantly saying “somebody, go get those balls,” or “somebody, rake this field” and Trey was always the “somebody” that would get it done. Coach O’Neal told a funny story of a time when he teased Trey because his lips were really chapped and he knew Trey’s dad, being a dermatologist, would probably have some top-of-the-line chapstick. He told Trey after practice that he would have to run five miles if he didn’t get him the chapstick back the next day…as a joke of course, but in true Trey fashion, he called his mom and they had Coach his chapstick back within a few hours.
What a priceless memory. Even though his young life was cut short at the end of his tenth grade year in a tragic accident, it was apparent that Trey in fact had many friends who loved and admired him, as evidenced by the crowd at the hospital the night that he passed away. On that fateful night, Coach O’Neal said, “I looked up at the hospital, and I swear, all of Neville High School was there. It was amazing to see the support.” Adding to Tim’s amazement, was the strength demonstrated by Trey’s parents, Jay and Helena Altick, who “were actually comforting other people, rather than allowing themselves to be comforted. I have never seen anything like it in my life.”
I am sure the sadness I feel for this tragic loss will come through the words of this column, but I hope it will be overshadowed by the admiration I feel for both this fine, young man and the strength this family has exhibited since Trey’s passing. I am sure there were many difficult days ahead of them subsequent to Trey’s death, none of which could have been any harder than when Coach O’Neal, his staff and team retired Trey’s jersey for the two years following his accident, framed it, and had Garrett Reno carry it with them to every game. Or when his parents attended the baseball team’s “senior night” the year Trey would have been a senior, and stood on the field to represent their beloved son. Or perhaps when they were approached about renaming the former Bayou State Prep Classic, a statewide baseball tournament, to the Trey Altick Louisiana Prep Classic. When asked about how the renaming of the tournament came about, Tim’s answer was simple, “When Catherine and Collins Coon and I approached the other coaches involved in the tournament about renaming it, they all thought it was a great idea and were all for it. It was interesting because there are many schools involved in the organization of the tournament, but no one even considered or cared that Trey was a Neville student…he was someone’s son, brother and friend. The fact that Trey loved baseball and that he emulated the type of kid that we all want our sons to be, made the decision a no-brainer.” This tournament has now grown into one of the largest high school baseball tournaments in the country, and this year it hosted 49 teams, which included last year’s 1A, 2A, 3A and 4A state champions. This year, the Alticks went to 11 different fields to throw out the first pitch, and each team gave Helena a bouquet of flowers and Jay a baseball. The lump in my throat just gets bigger. Why? Because I am not sure if the young men that play in the Trey Altick Tournament every year realize the “role model” they are playing for, but hopefully the readers of this column will realize, and appreciate, that role models are all around us, at every age, in every walk of life. Trey Altick was one of those role models. He may not have had the length in years that my dear friend Mr. Rodney had, but Trey too carried himself with the same devotion to his family, with the same integrity and with the same behavior that should be emulated, both by the young and the old. Trey’s legacy will also continue to stretch far beyond his years due to Hope7, the foundation started in his memory by his parents, which is another example of the grace and strength exemplified by his family. It sounds like good “role models” run in the family to me.