BAYVILLE >> Strength isn’t necessarily about how much weight you can lift or carry. And it’s not always about standing tall as others fall. Sometimes, it’s about sustaining what seems a crippling blow … and then finding a way to carry on.
At the very beginning of the 2020-21 school year, on opening night of the boys varsity soccer season, Jason Trapp was the Central Regional High School Golden Eagles’ starting goalkeeper. The team was at home, playing Brick Memorial in a key Shore Conference matchup, and the score was tied at two. When the ball rose in the air just outside Central Regional’s net, Trapp rushed forward and jumped toward it.
The senior soccer player’s intention was simply to secure the ball … but a series of events quickly unfolded that resulted, among other things, in Trapp eventually being recognized as the 2021 recipient of the annual Kearny Bank Strength Award.
The honor includes a $2,500 academic scholarship, and celebrates a scholastic athlete who courageously overcame a significant physical injury. First awarded in 2019 and developed in conjunction with the NJSIAA (New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association), the Kearny Bank Strength Award is open to any student-athlete attending any of NJSIAA’s 436 member schools.
On that October night in Bayville, Trapp was at the apex of his leap when a Brick player collided with him. The goalkeeper flipped in the air, coming down directly on his head and neck. There were immediate cries for help, and after several intense minutes, medical staff stabilized Trapp and rushed him off to Hackensack Meridian Jersey Shore University Medical Center in Neptune City.
“When I got to Jason, lying there on the field, he was completely unconscious,” recalls Troy Van Hise, Central Regional’s boys varsity soccer coach. “His neck and shoulders were in a very awkward position and he was gasping for air. It was one of the most terrifying injuries I’ve ever responded to.”
Ultimately, Trapp sustained a shattered collarbone and a serious concussion. Neither his neck nor back were injured, and he had movement in his arms and legs. He was discharged from the hospital at 1 a.m. the day following his injury, but the next morning, when Van Hise checked on him, he was actively engaged in the online session of his AP Physics class. And later that same day, Trapp was at soccer practice to support and reassure his teammates … and inform his coach that he intended to return to play before the season ended.
“I said, ‘Great, I’m looking forward to it,’” Van Hise says. “But … well, I didn’t really think it was a possibility.”
In the weeks that followed, Trapp attended every game and practice, serving as the team’s unofficial goalkeeper coach. And about a month after sustaining his frightening injury, Trapp had secured full medical clearance to return to the playing field. His first challenge was Southern Regional High School, the top offensive team in the conference, and he made a remarkable 22 saves to force overtime. Trapp started twice more after that, including an exceptional performance in a 2-2 draw against Toms River High School East.
“Jason made a commitment to our team that he was determined to fulfill,” says Van Hise. “It was one of the most impressive journeys by any student-athlete I’ve ever witnessed. He simply never gave up.”
This autumn, Trapp is schedule to continue his education and athletic career at Rochester Institute of Technology.