From Tragedies to Triumphs: Trinasia Kennedy’s Path To Marist

In Marist women’s basketball’s first practice after a lengthy COVID pause, there are the usual sights and sounds. The dribbling of basketballs, the squeak of shoes on the hardwood floor, and the talk between players and coaches. Above all this, one player stands out.

Number five in the gray and red practice uniform, Trinasia Kennedy. 

She intensely runs through drills before her official practice has even started. This dedication might seem normal for someone who earned Preseason All-MAAC second-team honors. But this season, things have not always been this simple. It was one of her first full-contact practices of 2021-22.

Speaking of simple, life has been anything but for Marist’s junior guard. 

Trinasia Kennedy was born September 9, 2000, in Binghamton, New York. She was her mother’s fifth child.

Throughout her childhood, things were not easy. Her family was evicted often, and Kennedy attended three different elementary schools where she dealt with bullying and racism. From a young age, Kennedy never let adversity define her, excelling in the classroom and keeping out of trouble outside of school.

As time went on, she found hobbies to distract from her harsh reality. After talking with a gym teacher in seventh grade, she decided to try out for her school’s basketball team. At this point, she had never even picked up a ball, but her coach and teacher saw limitless potential.

As time went on and Trinasia continued to develop her skills, basketball became more than a hobby for her. She felt personally connected to the game, which allowed her to escape her stressful life at home.

In 2014, Kennedy entered high school and her fourth different school district. She worked hard in the classroom and played hard on the court, making a name for herself and her athletic skills, competing in basketball and track.

The following summer proved to be life-altering for Kennedy. On the Fourth of July, she was celebrating with friends and family when her older brother opened fire on one of her classmates and track teammates, killing him.  

“My heart was racing. I stood up and watched my teammate bleed out and his lifeless body lying on the steps,” Kennedy said. “I have not been the same since. When you see someone die in such a violent way right in front of you, let alone at the hands of your brother, it changes you.”

After the shooting, the odds continued to stack up against Kennedy. After receiving several death threats, her mother felt it was safest to move to North Carolina once her brother’s trial was over.

She welcomed her daughter to join her, but Kennedy declined. She felt it was in her best interest to remain in New York. She had just started playing for a travel basketball team and did not feel like she would have the same success in North Carolina.

That summer, Trinasia lived with four different families who provided for her, something she would have never predicted a few months prior.  

Things started to look up again as her sophomore year got underway. She got the chance to play for a well-known travel program and get competitive exposure to colleges.

 As fast as the season started, it ended when she tore her ACL, forcing her to endure an eight-month recovery, causing her to fall into a depression. 

“Everything hit me at once,” Kennedy said. “I just went through something extremely traumatic and was looking forward to getting back to my passion and favorite distraction, but I injured myself and lost the one thing keeping me sane. This was a really difficult point in my life”.

That could have been the last straw, but she forced herself to get healthy again, both mentally and physically. Going into her junior year, she transferred schools once again, to her fifth school district, where she was ostracized and unwelcomed by her team.

That year, she did not gain much college exposure but continued to work hard both on and off the court. During the spring of her junior year, tragedy struck again.

She was scheduled to take her AP History test when her other brother was gunned down in the street and killed. His funeral took place on the same day as her exam, but she decided to go to the test. 

“When I graduated eighth grade, my brother made me promise to go to college,” she said. “I felt as though he would have wanted me to take the exam so, I did”.

Going into her senior year, Trinasia recognized that this could be her last shot, she had earned one offer from Bethune Cookman University, but she was not satisfied. That year, she led her team to the state championship, and Brian Giorgis, veteran head coach of Marist women’s basketball entered the picture.

At first, Giorgis could not offer Kennedy a scholarship, he only had two scholarships to give out, and they were already gone. Unknown to Giorgis, Kennedy had reclassified into the class of 2019, allowing Giorgis to offer her a spot within the class of 2023, which she accepted.

In 2019, Kennedy moved into her dorm at Marist, where she began to struggle. A private school in Poughkeepsie was a complete change of scenery from public schools in the Binghamton area.

She bumped heads with her new coaches and battled depression. Marist assistant coach Maggie Gallagher described Kennedy’s freshman year as “coming in with all the tools she needed to be a dominant player in our league, but her lack of confidence held her back from doing so”

When she was forced to move back home because of COVID, she began constantly training in an attempt to make herself a better ballplayer. When sophomore year kicked off, she felt excited and ready to take on the season. Her hard work during the off-season paid off. Gallagher said Kennedy “Put in countless hours in the gym in order to improve her game but also to increase her confidence and show herself what she was capable of.”

During her sophomore year, she enjoyed a successful season, averaging 9.7 points per game compared to two points per game in her freshman year. On Jan. 3, 2021, however, she sustained an injury to her knee. Kennedy continued to play through the pain, winning a MAAC championship and playing in the NCAA tournament.

In June, she returned to Poughkeepsie and had surgery to repair her knee, forcing her to endure months of rehab. As per usual, she did not let this stop her. 

“No matter what [she] has been through or still goes through, she is always able to find the good in the day,” Kennedy’s long-time friend turned teammate Kiara Fisher said. “Not a lot of people know what she’s been through because of the way she carries herself. She is such a rare soul and I admire her strength and perseverance every day.”

On Dec. 3, 2021, Trinasia’s hard work to come back to the court paid off as she participated in her first full-contact practice. She played in her first game on Dec. 18 and has scored in double figures in each of her three appearances and will be one of the prime factors in turning around her team’s fortunes. 

“It feels good to be back out there,” she said. “I’ve been on the bench all season and it’ll be good to finally be on the court playing with my teammates after a period of what I like to call hell.”

Edited by Jonathan Kinane and Mackenzie Meaney

Photo Taken by Annabel Banks

One thought

  1. This keeps the scores of the games in a better perspective, or at least it should !
    This should be required reading particularly for the few naysayers who attend the games.

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