Nina Walat/ Daily Collegian
Nina Walat/ Daily Collegian

Bobby Trivigno’s influence from his sister helped establish his competitive edge

Dana and Bobby are both successful hockey players, and each others biggest supporters

March 7, 2022

It was déjà vu as Nancy and Bob Trivigno drove their youngest son, Bobby, to the preschool attached to an ice rink. Bobby followed in the footsteps of his older sister, Dana, who first attended the school, and both siblings learned a vital skill that would impact the rest of their lives: the ability to skate. It was at that school that their passion for hockey began. And with Rangers games constantly lighting up the television throughout their house, they had no choice but to love hockey.

“When my sister was born, my dad wanted to put someone in a hockey suit,” Bobby said. “She had a very successful career, playing for a really long time.”

With such a distinct age gap, Dana was always bigger and taller than Bobby growing up, which built on the competitive nature between the two. Times in the basement or backyard rinks were filled with games of mini sticks, even potentially ending with a few bruises and even a bloody nose. Dana never went easy on her younger brother, always looking to win. From hockey to even a board game, the ambitious nature was always present.

“I give her a lot of credit to developing my competitive edge,” Trivigno said. “My grit and nastiness on the ice has definitely come from many stick battles with her where she always got the best of me.”

The siblings have always been each other’s biggest supporters, despite the competitiveness between the two. Dana’s consistent appreciation, especially on social media, allows Trivigno to know that she remains his number one fan and her influence has led to his compete level on the ice.

The two took a similar path, with Dana leading the way. She attended Shattuck St Mary’s in Minnesota, with Trivigno following years later, where he won a national title with them in 2016, before going on to play Juniors.

“It was the best place to be if you’re a high school hockey player in my opinion,” Bobby and Dana’s father Bob Trivigno said about his children’s experiences at Shattuck St. Mary’s. “The school balances the hockey and the academics very well because there’s two and a half rinks on campus, and so they recruit the best players so the teams are always playing and you’re always practicing against the best players.”

Bobby and Dana both knew that their hockey careers were not destined to end once they graduated high school. For men, the conventional route is to play junior ice hockey before moving to the collegiate level. Trivigno took this path, going to play in the USHL for the Waterloo Black Hawks in Iowa. He ended his year with 43 points during the 2017-18 season, finishing fourth on the team in scoring.

Despite having the same goals, the siblings were forced to take different paths after high school, and Dana’s matched what all women go through during this process. While there is a junior’s level of hockey for women, it is not as viable of a choice for many compared to the men’s junior level, therefore they go straight from high school to college.

At Shattuck St. Mary’s Dana was a member of the 2009 USA Hockey Tier 1 U16 and 2011 U19 national champion team, earning the position as assistant captain during her senior year. Having participated in multiple USA Hockey national development camps, college programs took notice of her skill and dedication to the sport.

Dana began talking to schools during her junior year of high school. She leaned on her family, talking about the different options and what school would best match her interests. However, her parents didn’t want to influence the decision too much, saying that this was her choice to make. She visited Harvard and Boston College on the same weekend and knew that the campus at BC was the right place for her.

At BC, Dana’s game continued to improve and evolve. As a freshman, she was named to the Hockey East All-Rookie team, having played in every game that season. In her junior year, the success continued, and she ranked fourth on the team in points. She missed two games during that season due to the opportunity to play on the U.S. National Team at the Four Nationals Cup. As a senior, she was named a captain and ended up ranked ninth best in the nation on face-offs, earning MVP honors during the Bean Pot and placed on the Hockey East All-Academic team. Her success in college earned her the opportunity to play professionally for three years, joining the Boston Pride and Connecticut Whales in the National Women’s Hockey League.

When it was Bobby’s turn to begin touring colleges and making decisions, Dana was able to give him the perfect advice.

“Talk to the coaches, visit campus, and go to the place where you just feel at home,” Dana said. “Go to the place where you’re going to have fun and where you are going to enjoy it, and I think UMass was that for him.”

Getting to witness his sister’s success firsthand, Trivigno was quick to look to Dana for advice and encouragement. And for Bobby, attending UMass was a no-brainer.

“UMass has been awesome to me,” Trivigno said when reflecting on his four years in a Minuteman uniform. “They gave me the tools to develop into the player and the person I’ve become today.”

Nina Walat/ Daily Collegian

With his father instilling the necessity to consistently work hard, UMass’ assistant coach at the time, Ben Barr, recognized how hard of a player Trivigno was and how he was always willing to put in the work. This mentality is something Dana and Bobby continue to take with them throughout their careers.

“What [my dad] did with me and my sister to develop and push us to the hockey players we’ve been and where we are now is awesome,” Trivigno said. “He expected a lot out of me and that’s what pushed me really hard.”

Bob began playing hockey at the age of thirteen and turned his love of watching the New York Rangers on television into an influence on Trivigno’s passion for the sport. With hockey being an expensive sport, Bob had to work and pay for himself, but it was something that he was willing to do.

Using the money from his paper route, Bob started taking lessons with Barbara Williams, the first female skating coach in the NHL. Williams took Bob into the pro shop and showed him the correct pair of skates to buy, and he did just that.

“She taught me how to skate and I was diligent,” Bob said. “I went skating every week with her and then public skating sessions until I got to be pretty good on my feet.”

Having 20-minute sessions, Bob learned the basics of skating such as going backwards, pivots, and the foundation that he needed for the game of hockey from Williams, and continued to take lessons with her into his 20s.

Williams worked with the Islanders during their four consecutive Stanley Cup wins and went on to work with the New Jersey Devils as their skating coach. Along with Bob, she privately trained more than 200 NHL players and was inducted into the Suffolk Sports Hall of Fame in 2011. Her knowledge and passion for the sport is something that Bob instilled on his children when he went onto coach them.

Bob coached Trivigno’s team until the age of 16 and he explained that he wouldn’t have wanted anyone else to be his coach. He continued to push him and expected a lot, but that has led to the type of player he is now.

Although Bobby and Dana’s mom Nancy never played hockey, she has always been a fan of the sport. Growing up, she had a pair of blades stashed away in the garage and after it snowed or there was ice on the pond, she would go out and skate.

As Bobby and Dana were growing up, Nancy spent a lot of time at the rink, watching her children skate and her husband coach. She would skate alongside her family, and specifically remembers holding onto Bobby while he was younger, helping guide him around the ice.

“It was always a family activity for us,” Nancy said. “I want to say it was our family sport.”

Memories of driving her children to practices were filled with smiles and laughter, as both Dana and Bobby were always looking forward to going. While hockey was a main topic in the household, there was a 24-hour rule following the games that they weren’t allowed to talk anything relating to the sport.

“I love them and I’m really proud of them,” Nancy said when reflecting on the careers both of her children have had. “They’re competitive when they get on the ice, and they have tremendous passion and desire to win.”

His parents are season ticket holders, coming to almost every game, and Dana makes the trip from Chestnut Hill whenever she can. Bobby always looks forward to playing his sister’s alma mater in the rivalry weekend that starts within his own family. BC was one of many colleges that overlooked Bobby early on and he has an extra chip on his shoulder when taking on the Eagles.

“[They have a] tremendous passion and desire to win, but at home they’re brother and sister,” Nancy said about the competitiveness between the two. “Even though they were five years apart, they were always good friends, and they would go outside, and they would play together and skate together.”

Regardless of the rivalry, Trivigno is quick to say that his family is his biggest fan club.

“Support systems are really important, especially when you’re someone who’s not very sought after, which has been most of my career,” Trivigno said. “Having people that love and support you, just like my sister does always on Instagram, Twitter, text me, whatever it is, come to my games, has been really important to me and something I really cherish.”

Courtesy of Bob and Nancy Trivigno

Trivigno still holds onto his first pair of skates and never forgets where he came from or those that helped make him into the player he is today. There is one lesson that both he and Dana have taken with them throughout their hockey careers, and they will never forget it.

“Your job is to leave that place better than when you found it,” Trivigno said.

Sophie Weller can be reached at [email protected] and followed on twitter @SophieeWellerr.

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