Thursday, October 14, 2010

A Gretzky to Slap Baseballs Not Hockey Pucks

Hockey Hall of Famer Wayne Gretzky's son Trevor committed to play college baseball at San Diego State University yesterday, where Baseball Hall of Famer and coach Tony Gwynn will attempt to guide him to the pros. Trevor Gretzky's a senior at Oaks Christian High School in Westlake Village, Calif., where he also played football and attempting to continue his family's domination of the Montana clan.

So as Trevor Gretzky commits to the diamond, it got us wondering: Why did he choose that path over the one to the rink as a young athlete, given his family legacy?

The obvious speculation is: He's Wayne Gretzky's son, and playing puck would be like Plácido Domingo's son trying to become a tenor. But the truth is that Trevor Gretzky played some hockey, and it might have been his game of choice ... were it not for some geographic restrictions.

From a Nov. 2008 ESPN "Outside The Lines" piece on the Oaks Christian football team's celebrity offspring:

Trevor, for instance, has had a hockey stick in his room his whole life, but Wayne never gave him any ice to go with it. "He's grown up in the Southwest, and he's never really had a desire to skate," Wayne says. "If you can't skate, you can't play in the NHL. It's pretty simple."

Says Trevor: "I played growing up -- I was a goalie. But there is nowhere to play out here." Over the years, Wayne would take a look at Trevor's wingspan -- on his way to 6-foot-4 -- and wonder whether the boy could've been a defenseman. And the kid played defense, all right: linebacker. "He's a football player," says Bill Redell, the head varsity coach at Oaks Christian. "Hockey's like watching two guys fish. He's not going to play hockey."

Turn out he's not going to play football, either, which was a difficult decision. As Wayne Gretzky told Pierre LeBrun last December: "He's a normal kid. When he's playing football, he says football; when he's playing baseball, he says baseball. ... The good news for him is that he does work hard, he's very humble, he's 6-foot-5 -- he has all the attributes."

Trevor wasn't the only chance to extend the Gretzky legacy in hockey. His brother, Ty, played at the prestigious Shattuck-St. Mary's high school in Minnesota back in 2007 but didn't return after one season. Said Wayne Gretzky in a 2008 interview:

"He didn't play a lot. He realized he was not going to be a player. But it was all good. He lived away from home and he loved the year. He's not going to look back when he's 25 wishing he'd given it a try."

With a famous father, the Gretzky boys (and there are two other brothers) are attempting to find their niche. In Trevor's case, it's baseball; and it's probably less intimidating to take on a sport where his family name isn't already littering the record books.

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