By Paul Condry and Matt Kopsea
Treven Ball had a passion for football.
Unfortunately, the Springs Valley fifth grader will never get the opportunity to suit up for his beloved Blackhawks.
On September 13, the 10-year old two-way lineman sadly passed away in his mother’s arms from complications of a strep infection.
Doctors and the coroner were unable to determine from blood work and the autopsy how he contracted the illness. They mentioned this was one of those 1 in 1,000,000 cases.
It was thought he started developing symptoms a couple of days prior to his passing, but there is no concrete timeline of when we began to experience the symptoms.
According to youth league coach Michael Allstott, Treven was struggling with an unrelated sprained knee issue days prior, but had no stand out illness or visual signs.
In addition to his parents, Terrin and Holly Ball, he leaves behind his brother, Talon, and sister, Taylyn.
“Treven was a dedicated participant in our youth football league and was a die-hard Springs Valley Blackhawks’ fan,” said Springs Valley varsity football coach Jason Lowe, who was also Treven’s social studies teacher. “His humility and love for Springs Valley was what made him so special. It was never about Treven to him. He loved SV (Springs Valley). He was always one of the boys’ running out with the flags that spell ‘HAWKS’ before football and basketball games. He was always the kid standing near the field or court as our teams ran out to give them ‘knucks’ as they ran past.
“I loved what someone said at the funeral service (on September 17 at Springs Valley High School). In all the stories that were shared last week, no one talked about Treven’s ability on the field. They never talked about how ‘great’ of a player he was. He was a very good player and he and I had discussions at school about him being a lineman for us for years to come. But, it was his selfless nature and the wonderful teammate he was that set him apart.”
Although Treven just missed celebrating his 11th birthday (September 19), he has definitely had a lasting impact on everyone around him.
“The community really rallied around the Ball family on Tuesday night (September 13) after two hard fought junior high football victories over Class 2A Forest Park (seventh grade) and Class 3A Southbridge (eighth grade),” Lowe said. “All of the kids had Treven’s name and number (No. 68) written on their tape, cleats, socks, etc. and hundreds of people showed up to surround the football field and pray with and for Treven’s family.
“The outpouring of support was nothing short of amazing. I was one of the last ones to leave campus that night. When I walked out of the locker room about 11 p.m., they were still down there and people were still with them. That just carried over as the week went on.”
In addition to a Go Fund Me page that raised around $30,000, helmets were passed around during the Mitchell-Crawford County game on September 16 and raised donations of almost $3,000.
Another unforgettable moment that took place on the same evening was Springs Valley posting a 23-16 over Salem.
“It was our homecoming week and because of scheduling reasons, we had an open week and picked up Class 3A Salem,” explained Lowe. “In addition to an emotional moment of silence, all the signs on the fence, the gathering of the Ball family at Treven’s memorial at the field under the scoreboard, and all of the homecoming festivities, we played our best game of the year. It was a scene that no one present will ever forget.”
Another thoughtful gesture to honor Treven took place when Salem wore No. 68 decals on the back of their helmets.
“When I first heard what happened to Treven, I honestly had to take a moment just to gather myself because I couldn’t imagine what his parents were going through,” recalled Salem coach Blair Thompson. “My son and Treven were the same age and knowing this young man was playing in his youth game two days earlier just really put things in perspective for me. As a coach, we get so caught up on wins and losses. However, we sometimes need reminded of what this great game is all about.
“Many people don’t understand how tight the high school coaching fraternity really is toward each other. I have had so many people help me in so many aspects of coaching it’s been unbelievable. I wanted to make sure we could give back to the Springs Valley community like many have for us. We wanted to celebrate the life of a young man who loved this game the way we do. We also wanted to make sure his joy and excitement generated outside of just their community. We were very privileged to help in any way we could. We will continue to wear his number on our helmets for the remainder of the year.”
Lowe was definitely touched by what Thompson did to honor Treven’s memory.
“Oddly enough, Coach Thompson and I met at the funeral of my brother in law, (former West Washington coach) Phillip Bowsman,” explained Lowe. “We have stayed in touch since and then this game came about. Once Blair heard the news, he reached out about each day that week to check in on our team, community, etc. The helmet decals were a really nice gesture, and those actions say a lot about the kind of guy Coach Thompson is and the heart he has for kids.”
Lowe believes Treven’s legacy has helped his club bond closer as they have run off two straight wins (Salem and Crawford County) to improve to 4-2 on the season.
“In all honesty, it wasn’t something that we discussed a lot through the week.” Lowe said in reference to Treven’s passing. “We shared the news with the kids Tuesday after practice and many of them were present for the prayer gathering. As the week went on, it wasn’t something that was discussed much until we went through what our pre-game and moment of silence would look like. When we walked through that on Thursday, it stood out to me how serious they took it. We literally just walked through how we would do these things pre-game on Friday. As we got closer to game time on Friday, I noticed kids all hovered around tape, pre-wrap and markers and they were all trying to find any way possible to show their love and respect to Treven and his family.
“And then like I said, to be there under that scoreboard after such a big win was something I will never forget and I’m not sure any kind of championship could top it. I told the kids after our pre-game devotion that they had the chance to bring a lot of hurting people a great deal of joy. And I tried to reiterate to them that they (our team) had been chosen and set apart as the team to bring this joy. No one before them and hopefully no one after them would go through this. And boy did they bring the joy. And of course we brought Talon in to get our ‘L.E.A.D.’ break once we were finished.”
Not having Treven around on a daily basis is something that will take time to adjust to.
“I’m not going to lie. It all comes flooding back to me and I’m a bawling mess,” Lowe said. “It’s been over a week and it’s still there. Talon has been at our team breakfast the last two Friday’s and on the sideline with us again. It’s incredible to see our players (namely our kicker Griffin McGee) take him in as their own little brother. Talon loves setting the ball up for Griff on the sidelines while he warms up and kicks into the net. The way I have seen our players, coaches, school, community, and even strangers come together over this is more of what our world needs. The world needs more Treven Ball’s, but this kid is changing the world without even being ‘in’ it.”
Somewhere in heaven, you know Treven was happy last Friday when the Blackhawks posted a 71-0 win over Crawford County.
“I think he would have a big, ear-to-ear smile and he would be passing out hugs and fist bumps to all of these people that have gathered around the past couple of weeks,” Lowe said.
Springs Valley hopes to get another boost from Treven when it travels to No. 9 (Class 1A) Tecumseh (6-0) this Friday.
Interested parties can donate to the Treven Ball Memorial Scholarship Fund, 498 South Larry Bird Blvd. French Lick, Indiana 47432.