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Trent Salo happy to be a 'Knight for life'
By Andrew Knot | Men's Basketball

Remembering his first experience as a Calvin College Knight: “I had an older couple come up to me— I had no idea who they were—and give me all kinds of compliments. They told me they love watching me play,” Trent Salo said.

Salo, a senior from Rudyard, Mich., describes his journey to Calvin as “random,” but doesn’t doubt that he was supposed to land in Grand Rapids. Coming out of high school, Salo had dreams of playing Division II basketball. He followed that dream to Northwood University in Midland, Mich. There, Salo played his way into a starting spot his first year.

But after some time, the 5’9” point guard became disillusioned with his situation.

“Basketball wasn’t fun for me anymore. I hated going to practice and workouts at 6 a.m. every day. Finally, I said, ‘I can’t do this anymore,’” said Salo. Frustrated, Salo approached Sam Hargraves, then an assistant at Northwood who played basketball at Calvin from 1995-1998. “I told Sam I wanted to transfer. I still thought I could play, but it just wasn’t working out at Northwood,” said Salo.

Hargraves directed Salo to his alma mater, Calvin, previously unknown to Salo. He soon visited Grand Rapids and was instantly drawn to the area.

“I came down for a visit and fell in love with the campus. Everyone here was very friendly. I loved Coach (Kevin) Vande Streek right away,” said Salo, who quickly decided to transfer to Calvin and saw a “night and day” difference in his game. “Basketball was fun again,” he said.

Salo started 12 games as a sophomore, his inaugural season at Calvin.

As a junior, Salo was named captain. He started all 28 games for the Knights, averaging five points a game and finishing the year with 47 assists, second on the team. With him at the point, Calvin won the MIAA regular season title.

Though he made a considerable statistical impact, those around Salo will tell you his biggest impact doesn’t show up in the box score. “Trent’s an example by his work ethic, enthusiasm and organization. He leads with passion and is an excellent motivator,” said Vande Streek.

Salo remembers seeing special potential before entering the 2010-11 season: “In the pre-season, I felt that I was playing the best basketball that I’ve played.” That’s what made a pre-season foot injury all the more devastating. In the opening minutes of a pre-season scrimmage at Grand Rapids Community College—the Knight’s first game action of the year—Salo broke his foot, leaving him sidelined until January.

Finally, on January 8, Salo took the playing floor, getting the starting nod.

“We didn’t play well that game. That brought me back to reality,” he reflected. The loss signaled a rush of doubt for Salo.

“After that game, I questioned a lot of things, ‘Am I going to be the same player?’, ‘Is my quickness going to come back?’, and ‘Is it going to ever get easier for me?’” Two-and-a-half weeks later, those questions were answered. Salo and the Knights throttled conference foe Albion 81-50. Salo finished the game with eight points and three assists on 3-4 shooting. But most affirming were his coach’s post-game words.

“After we played Albion that Wednesday, Coach told me ‘Welcome back.’ It was a huge confidence boost, to have coach tell me that,” said Salo.

The Knights would close out the season winning seven of their final 10 games, winning the regular season conference title along the way. Though the three losses included two against rival Hope, one of them a five-point loss in the MIAA championship game, Salo and the rest of the Calvin seniors left their mark on the program: a pair of MIAA regular season titles and one second-place effort in three years.

After graduation, Salo, an exercise science major, plans to attend graduate school in exercise physiology with hopes of becoming a college professor in the field. Until then, he hopes to work as a personal trainer.

“I like to call Calvin one big family. People graduate and feel so involved here. We have such a great alumni base, and that’s such an asset for a college to have,” he said. “People feel involved whether they graduated two years ago or 20 years ago. If you played basketball for Calvin, you’re a Knight for life.”