The first thing you notice about Buchanan senior Trevor Ervin are the muscles: his arms, calves, his neck, the anvil jaw and those thick tree trunks we call legs. He’s a 5-foot-10, 210 pound mountain of strength, and when he dons those pads under the Friday night lights, he can just as easily ram into opponents like a wild minotaur, shattering them into tiny particles of dust or leave frazzled would-be tacklers in his wake like a trail of fallen soldiers.
And then there’s that handshake he gives you – you know that type of handshake – the one where dudes reach out with a hand that’s made of stone, and you know what’s comin’ next and you feel the throbbing from the vice grip for the next two hours. Please note: proceed with caution when shaking Trevor Ervin’s hand.
He’s got that freakish strength, an Ervin trait you’ll find more about later. His peers call him “Hulk” and his wrestling teammates don’t want to do drills against him in practice, well, because he hurts them.
He not all brawn, though. He’s got the brains (4.0 GPA), the fortitude, the attitude and tough-mindedness that coaches dream of. Bears wrestling coach Troy Tirapelle says you always know what you are going to get: solid, great work ethic, great effort and a great result.
When football coach Matt Giordano asked him to play linebacker in addition to running back this season, Ervin dutifully said, “Yes, coach.” He then goes and registers 14 tackles against Liberty-Bakersfield with 120 yards on the ground and a 25-yard touchdown. Then he rushed for 258 yards and four touchdowns in the 55-18 dismantling of Bullard, then grounded 210 more with four more scores in the heartbreaking 28-27 loss to Central, Buchanan’s first of the season against five wins. You should have seen those Grizzly defensive players trying to get an angle on him as he zoomed past them in a blur of red, white and blue.
When the season began, he knew he was going to be sharing the backfield with one of the top sophomore running backs in the nation, Kendall Milton. There was no this is supposed to by MY senior season, MY year. Instead he showed humility and grace when he surely could have been bitter, and harbored angst. The two have combined for 30 touchdowns in seven games this season.
And he’s wrestled varsity since his freshman year and won back-to-back team CIF state wrestling titles the last two years, placing sixth individually in the state in 2017. Military Academies want him to wrestle or play football for them, including the Air Force Academy where the mantra is: “Integrity First, Service Before Self, and Excellence in All We Do.” Sounds like they got their man pegged right there.
But there’s more to Trevor Ervin than meets the eye. Yes, certainly a beast on the football field and undeniably a bear on the wrestling mat, but away from the game he’s as respectful, gracious, polite and kind as a high school athlete as you’ll ever find.
When I’m ready to do an interview with Ervin after a recent practice, we find some shade and plop down underneath a tree, the Tuesday before the big league opener against Central. Over the course of our 45-minute conversation, I discover more and more of who Trevor Ervin is: an athlete who is a wise beyond his years with a perspective on life rare for any 18-year-old.
First things first, I brought my fifth grade daughter with me to the interview after picking her up from gymnastics class and she sat quietly under her own tree, about six feet away. She was reveling in the delight that only a McDonald’s Happy Meal can bring, when Ervin asked her questions ranging from how gymnastic class went (“fine”) to what are you eating (“chicken nuggets”) to what other sports do you play (“basketball”).
I’m liking this guy a lot more already.
We talk about how his football career started in third grade for the Rye Thunderbolts in Colorado, but ended the next day after he broke his arm riding his skateboard at his grandma’s house, how he played baseball but was bored at the pace of the game, and oh yeah, about that famous Ervin strength.
His father, Craig, was an all-state offensive and defensive lineman in high school in Colorado and mom, Donna, grew up in Alaska where she played basketball and ran track. Apparently, she’s not one to be trifled with, especially in the one of the oldest forms of competition: arm wrestling. She used to whip young Trevor, even in the 8th grade. In fact, good friend Theo Meyer made the mistake of challenging mom in the 7th grade and she worked him over like a sack of potatoes. Meyer is now 6-foot-4 and 270 pounds and opens up those holes for Ervin to run through on Friday nights.
I haven’t heard if there’s been a rematch.
However, it took a somewhat difficult and lonely time in Ervin’s early life where he realized that kindness needs to be king and thoughtfulness truly trumps all.
Born and raised in Pueblo, Colorado for the first eight years of his life, his family moved to Midlothian, Virginia, a coal mining town founded 300 years ago with a population of 58,800, where they would spend the next two-and-a-half years as his dad worked for the Federal Bureau of Prison. But Craig Ervin wanted more opportunities for his kids – Trevor and his three older siblings, Kaylee, Gage and Abby – so the family settled in Clovis. The state of Virginia was, well, let’s just say the people were different and standoffish, not his style, and during school he often retreated to a book instead of socialize.
Even so, after the family moved to Clovis he made friends quickly and was pleasantly surprised when everyone greeted him warmly, and he also excelled at sports, especially football and wrestling. It was a new beginning for the kid, and that’s when he told himself: I will not allow another kid to feel like I did back in Virginia.
“I like to do whatever I can to make a person feel good about themselves,” said Ervin. “Never look at a kid sitting alone and let them sit alone; go over and talk with them. That’s more important than anything. It’s more important to make other people feel good and feel like they are worth something.
“If I see a person, I go out of my way to say ‘Hi’ to them. When people see me, I like to think that they are going out of their way to say ‘Hi’ to me. It’s the Golden Rule: Treat others the way you want to be treated.”
One of his favorite movies, not surprisingly, is “Pay It Forward,” about a junior high boy who starts a world-wide phenomena by the simple gesture of being kind.
And hey, he can’t be all that perfect can he? Well, there was that time in fifth grade when he played up with the sixth grade football team and got the hankering to be a little mischievous before a game. Ervin wanted to get a few extra reps in before his sixth grade game, so he once snuck onto the field and entered the fifth grade huddle. Yep, straight up infiltrated their business.
“John, coach wants you out,” he said to a surprised kid in the huddle.
John heads to sideline: “Coach, why did you tell me to come out?”
“I didn’t tell you to come out.”
There goes Trevor running down the field.
OK, so he might not be ready for full sainthood, everyone’s got a little rascal streak in them, and Ervin certainly isn’t immune to that.
So, fast forward to Oct. 13, 2017 – Buchanan’s homecoming against Clovis West, a huge game with crucial league and playoff implications, both teams coming in at 6-1, a rivalry game for sure.
Buchanan led at halftime 14-3, holding a lauded Golden Eagle offense to only a field goal, a game where Ervin was shining at linebacker and cutting up the field on offense. Then the homecoming festivities began and he was crowned homecoming king, standing next to his mom on the stage in front of the field at Veterans Memorial Stadium, grinning from ear to ear in his No. 32 jersey, cleats, pads, pants dirty from getting down and dirty in the game.
However, after halftime it was a different story – Clovis West played lights-out football outscoring the Bears 33-3 in the second half, including 21 points in the third quarter. Back-to-back tough losses for the Bears, and an 0-2 start in league after starting the season 5-0.
Most would hang their head in defeat, disappointed beyond belief, but guess who was the first Buchanan player in line to shake hands with the other team, ready to congratulate the team that just beat them on homecoming night?
I’m sure you already know who it was.