Unglamorous life of Mason Trafford - The Province
Mason Trafford has never been one for conventional entrances.
Or grand ones.
He sneaks in the back door. Crawls in through the basement window.
"I kind of just slip in there," he says. "My whole career has sort of been not really the glamourous kind.
"Nobody knows who I am and then suddenly I'm playing."
That sums up his stint so far with the Vancouver Whitecaps. Trafford, who turns 22 today, has managed to skyrocket into a starting role since showing up uninvited two months ago.
His relative anonymity is all the more remarkable considering he's a local kid -- a Handsworth graduate from North Vancouver.
"He basically came out of nowhere," said Whitecaps head coach Teitur Thordarson. "He came and asked for the possibility to train with us. I didn't know anything about him and nobody else on the team really did.
"But I really felt that the guy had something. His attitude to the game. And he's quite fast, strong, and he's very committed. He's really taken some steps forward."
Trafford's climb up the soccer ladder has been an interesting mix of determination and dumb luck.
A nationally-ranked squash player as a young teenager, many tried to talk Trafford into quitting competitive soccer to focus on the court.
He did play provincial team soccer but wasn't recruited much out of high school. He only ended up securing a last-minute scholarship at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas because a coach was out watching Langley's Scott McEachern while the two were training together.
"I was close to not going anywhere," said the former North Shore Selects player.
And once Trafford arrived at UNLV, he barely played for two years.
"My first two years were pretty terrible actually. The coaches had talked to me and basically said, 'We don't really like you, we're not going to follow through with this.'
"I was within a day of coming back here and I get a call at eight in the morning from my buddy: 'Did you hear the coaches got fired?'
"I said, 'No way.' I had a really fresh start from then and my junior and senior year took off."
Trafford, 6-foot-1, switched from outside midfield to centre back and went on to captain the Rebels.
His experience there gave him the confidence to simply approach the Whitecaps after graduation and he impressed quickly on a trial.
With a handful of injuries, there's been plenty of playing time for Trafford. Wednesday night in Seattle, Thordarson showed supreme confidence in him, starting him in central midfield.
"I've never really been the guy where people are like, 'We want Mason, we want Mason,'" Trafford said. "But once I get in, I work hard and do my best and seem to stick around." firstname.lastname@example.org
© The Vancouver Province 2008