Della Trimble makes me proud to say our lives are forever entwined.
Trimble, who is finishing up a magnificent volleyball career as a senior at Aragon, was born June 8, 2001. Four months later, I began writing for the now-defunct Independent newspaper covering San Mateo County sports.
My first freelance assignment ever was a weekday high school volleyball match at Aragon High School. The Lady Dons — this just one season prior to their advancing to the Central Coast Section championship match for the first time in program history — were coached by Trimble’s mother, Annette Gennaro-Trimble.
“Playing for [Gennaro-Trimble], she’s the old-school style coach, especially for basketball,” said Kelsey Stiles, now in her sixth year as Aragon volleyball’s head coach, who played for Gennaro-Trimble during that 2002 season.
One of my fondest memories of the early days as an upstart professional journalist, when I had a habit of conducting insufferably long interviews, came later that winter during basketball season.
Gennaro-Trimble granted me a telephone interview following an Aragon playoff game — following a road game that started at 7 p.m., no less — and was kind enough to answer every one of my meandering questions while, at the same time, cradling an 8-month-old Trimble in her other arm.
As the daughter of a revered high school coach, Trimble went on to grow up eating, breathing and living Aragon athletics. She attended St. Gregory’s Catholic School through eighth-grade, where she played for a girls’ basketball team that earned a three-peat as league champions. After graduating St. Gregory’s, she made the hard decision to part ways with her best friend and then schoolmate Isabel Lozito, who continued on the private school route to attend St. Ignatius-SF.
“I knew in my heart that I was going to go to Aragon,” Trimble said. “Aragon has always been a part of my life. And it meant I got to be with my mom.”
Some four years later, I have the honor of naming Trimble the Daily Journal Athlete of the Week. In the Dons’ first CCS finals appearance since their championship-match loss in 2002, the program realized its first-ever CCS title Saturday by sweeping Mountain View in the Division II championship at Gunn High School in Palo Alto.
A senior setter, Trimble — once a three-sport athlete at Aragon — hadn’t played in a championship of any kind since her days at St. Gregory’s. Still she was looking forward to the championship spotlight.
“I felt we were going to do well,” Trimble said. “I like the pressure. I think I do well under pressure. I also wanted to make sure my team was OK.”
And the kid responded smashingly, contributing in all facets of the game. Trimble ran the offense as effectively as ever, doing her job as a setter to the tune of 31 assists. But she also put down five kills on six attempts, shared the team-high with 13 digs and, in being Aragon’s only six-rotation player, produced plenty of clutch defense while in the front row with a match-high seven blocks.
“She’s a full-on competitor,” Stiles said. “When she’s on, the whole team is on.”
And she’s a chip off the old block. Trimble plays the game like her mother coaches it; and, yes, Gennaro-Trimble is still a teacher and coach at Aragon, who now runs the junior-varsity volleyball team. Trimble is the consummate leader, a devoted teammate, and an accessible and sincere personality. And when she steps on the court, she is one determined competitor.
“I have changed over the years dramatically,” Trimble said. “I think I’m just a better player and a better person. I think volleyball has helped me be more patient.”
Yet it was no cakewalk playing for her mother, who was just as tough on her, if not tougher, as she was on all her athletes. Stiles summed up best the reputation Gennaro-Trimble has as a coach, as running line drills for the Aragon girls’ basketball team is still synonymous with the former coach, even though she stepped down after the 2016-17 season to make way for current coach Sam Manu.
“She was tough,” Trimble said.
And her style still plays a key role in Aragon’s success.
“She’s definitely a big part of it,” Stiles said. “She’s a teacher on campus, so as far as logistics and administrative stuff goes, I use her as a reference. … And she’s at every game.”
Stiles, who took over the varsity team in 2013, has navigated a slow and steady rise to the CCS crown. In her first season, Aragon finished in last place in the Peninsula Athletic League Bay Division, prompting a demotion to the Ocean Division. It was a much-maligned demotion by Stiles, who vowed a quick return to the upper league.
In 2014, the Dons ran the table in PAL Ocean play and earned 30 overall wins. Returning to the Bay Division in 2015, they went on to post 9-5 league records in each of the next three seasons. This year, in Trimble’s third season as a varsity setter, Aragon posted a 12-2 league record, taking second place in the “A”-league
And Aragon’s season is still going. The Dons open play in the Division II bracket of the CIF State Volleyball Championships at home Tuesday night at 7 p.m.
With the single-elimination format in the five-round climb to the state championship match, Trimble knows what’s at stake.
“Just focus on the good energy,” Trimble said. “You never know when it could your last game.”
As Trimble’s varsity career winds down, though, she and the 2018 Lady Dons have forever etched themselves a place in Aragon history.