James Trentham: A true leader

Quin Norris, Sports Editor

Currently walking around UNA’s campus is a strong leader and captain of the UNA Rugby team, James Trentham. 

Growing up in Sulligent, Ala., James played many sports. 

“I participated in weightlifting, football, baseball and track and field.,” Trenthanm said. “In track and field, I participated in shock put, discus javelin making it to state in discus my senior year. In football we ran a wing-t offense where I played quick guard, defensive line and a little linebacker.” 

When James arrived on campus, he came on an academic scholarship, turning down offers for other sports at smaller universities around the country. 

“Playing rugby for me was kind of the next step, I wanted to keep up the physicality that I loved about playing sports in high school at Sulligent,”  Trentham said.

After arriving on the team, it took almost no time for James to find success making the team at the hooker positio.

 “My first year on the rugby team was during the Fall of 2018,” Trentham said. “That first year was an iconic year for our program. We had five all-Americans come back to play helping lead us to an undefeated regular season and a conference championship. During the regular season we beat notable teams such as Memphis, UT Chattanooga and Tennessee Tech. We then matched up with Tennessee Tech again in the conference championship game beating them 77-16. After winning the championship we went to the regional playoffs in St. Petersburg, Fla. In the first match at regionals we beat Valdosta State in overtime 29-26 before losing to Ecard in overtime 25-23 in the finals.” 

However, this first season was just the beginning for James. While the team has not seen the same level of success since his first season James has went on to take a key role in leading the team. 

The Vice President of the Rugby team Matthew Klima said spoke highly of Trentham.

“I couldn’t ask for a more dedicated leader than James,” Klima said. “He understands the sport in a way that many of the guys just do not. He was born to be a leader and I couldn’t think of a better man to lead the team than James. He is good about asking a lot out of all of us but you know that he would not ask us to do something he was not doing himself.” 

Being a leader is not new to Trentham. During his time spent at Sulligent High School, he was in several positions of authority. 

“Being captain of the football team helped a lot,” Trentham said. “Along with the lessons taught to me by my mom and dad. They did a lot teaching me the lessons of getting as much out of something as what you put into it.”

However, the largest benefit to developing good leadership skills had to come from being Trentham being involved on campus. Being in the Honors college, a senate and judicial member of the Student Government Association (SGA), a college of arts and sciences ambassador and the vice president of Alpha Tau Omega (ATO) has given him a multitude of outlets to work on how to lead a large range of people.

 “James is such a reliable guy,” said Joseph Crowhurs, UNA student and member of ATO. “In every organization I have been a part of with him he always comes in clutch for those who need him. It is nice to know that somewhere out there you know that James will do whatever is necessary to help everyone out.” 

Moving forward with the team Trentham is tasked with helping a lot of new guys learn the sport of Rugby. 

“James is the best man,” said Derrick Bishop, Rugdy teammate. “I came into this just looking for something to do now that I don’t have high school basketball anymore. He has helped teach me how to use certain aspects of my basketball knowledge to help with Rugby. Obviously, it is not a sport where you can copy and paste the techniques over but it has helped speed up the process for me and I know he is doing the same for other guys as well.” 

The role of captain of the Rugby team is not an easy one for Trentham in the current world either as he is looking to deal with a new hurdle that was not present for previous captains in the form of the coronavirus. 

Trentham said their team has a long road ahead of them due to COVID-19. Whereas the team woud usually have their regular season in the fall, the coronavirus put a halt to that. 

“Going into the spring semester, we were looking to have all of the teams in our conference analyze the situations on their respective campuses to find out where and when we could play each other,” Trentham said. “Sadly, about half of the teams in our conference cannot play due to the situations on their campuses but we want to have our season.”

Trentham said in order to achieve this, they are looking to have a short three to four-week spring training sort of season. By doing this, they will play a series of friendlies, which is a scrimmage game that gives playing experience to those who have no experience in Rugby. 

“We have gotten in contact with UAH, Tennessee Tech, Lee and the Huntsville men’s team,” Trentham said. “Now, playing them would be a different feel given that they are an independent club team out of the city of Huntsville.”

Going forward James has two major goals ahead of him in recruiting and developing the new talent. 

Phillip Cambrell, another member of Rugby, said that this has always been the team’s top priority. 

“Since we are just a club at UNA and are not part of the NCAA, we must do a lot of the work ourselves that the coaching staffs for a sport like football would normally do,” Cambrell said. “James has been not only instrumental in the developing the talent on the team but also in the role as a recruiter. I know when I was just a freshman his easy-going personality made it easy to talk to him at my SOAR trip and got me interested in playing the sport.” 

The team is now ramping up their weekly schedules to not only prepare for their spring training season but also for their 2021 fall season. 

As of right now, the team has set up a large amount of practices and workouts to get everyone shape. 

Trentham said that he has made it my personal mission in his final two semesters with the rugby team to achieve two things. 

“First, I want to make sure that the guys on that field develop a love for the sport of Rugby like I have because playing the sport without the passion for the sport is not a good way to enjoy your time with the team,” Trentham said. “Second, I want to help these guys develop their skills as Rugby players to hopefully make another deep run in the playoffs next season just to relive that experience from my freshman year and give these guys that emotional experience to take with them in their future lives.” 

UNA is not the end of the line for James in the sport of Rugby. Trentham shared that he has been extended an offer to go to a combine in Europe to play with w their minor league. However, he does not think that he will take that opportunity due to the far distance.

“I would have to travel away from family,” Trentham said. “But, I will hopefully be attending the combine for the United States rugby league in the spring of 2022.” 

Klima said that he can see plenty of potential for Trentham to make it in the United States league.

 “Well, I know that it wouldn’t be an easy task for James to pull off,” Klima said. “Obviously, there are limited roster spots in that league. If anyone could do it though it would be James. He has been a phenomenal hooker for us over the past three years and he has the heart and drive necessary to achieve anything he sets his mind to.”