The 2-year-old girl in the stands cheers and claps as The Evergreen State College men's basketball team practices.
“Let’s go defense!” Kalena Troyer yells. “Let’s go defense!”
Players run up and down the court. Someone scores a basket.
“Let’s go Daddy!” Kalena yells, clapping and jumping like a cheerleader.
That’s when Josh Troyer turns and smiles at his daughter.
“She thinks it’s a game,” Josh said. “She has fun.”
Welcome to the life and times of Josh Troyer, who is a busy man with several titles: basketball player, father, student and husband.
At 22, Troyer has more to do than the average college student. Troyer juggles the schoolwork of a psychology/criminal justice major, the six-day-a-week practice and game schedule of an athlete and the full-time schedule of a parent.
“Things can get busy,” Troyer said. “There are times where it definitely takes its toll. But you’ve just got to remember why you’re doing it.”
He’s doing it for his family – wife Kalena, his high school sweetheart, and, of course, Kayden.
Kalena and Kayden have missed just one Evergreen game this season, home or away.
“I’m his No. 1 fan,” Kalena said. “Because Josh has a family, he’s not your typical 22-year-old college basketball player. But he gives it everything he has. He gives everything 100 percent. I’m very blessed.”
Kayden sometimes tags along with her dad to afternoon basketball practices.
“She’ll cheer. And she claps her hands,” Troyer said. “My coach is very understanding.”
Troyer’s days start early and go late. He’s usually at school by 9 a.m. His wife begins her part-time job at 24-Hour Fitness at the same time. One of them drops off Kayden at daycare.
“We always have breakfast together as a family,” Troyer said.
Then they’re off.
Come game time, mom, daughter, grandparents and sometimes even great grandma are in the stands, cheering for Troyer and the Geoducks. They’re loud.
“Especially my grandma,” Troyer said with a smile. “She yells a little of everything. Some good. Some bad.”
With school, sports and family life, Troyer’s days usually stretch late into the night as he studies for a test or writes a paper. The stress of the studies, basketball and paying the bills don’t wear him down.
“Between the two of us, he’s definitely the calmer one,” Kalena said. “We balance each other out. I tend to be the worrier. I tend to be the one who gets anxious about the bills.”
Kalena’s part-time job covers only the extras.
“It pays for things like the cable and the electric bills,” Kalena said. “We have to make Josh’s financial aid checks go as far as we can.”
There’s also another helping hand. Their parents are an ongoing safety net.
Living from paycheck to paycheck isn’t easy. Financial worries can stress any marriage. But both Josh and Kalena have a sense that they’ll get through.
“We both have a very strong Christian faith,” Kalena said. “That plays a big part in our calmness and our collectiveness.”
Evergreen coach Arvin Mosley always knows he can count on Troyer.
“He’s a father. So, he looks at the world a little differently,” Mosley said. “He’s got a wife and a daughter. As a coach, I don’t have to worry about what he’s got going on in his spare time.”
Things will soon get even busier for the Troyers. They’re expecting their second child.
“It’s all so worth it,” Kalena said. “We’ve definitely had sleepless nights. It’s been hard. But neither of us would trade one of our sleepless nights. Our children are our biggest blessing.”
So far, Troyer’s busy schedule hasn’t bothered his shooting touch. The team’s third-leading scorer at 11.8 points per game, Troyer is making 43 percent of his shots from 3-point range, going 42-for-97 this season. That ranks him 20th in the country in NAIA Division II.
“Josh can really shoot the 3,” Mosley said. “He’d shoot mostly 3s if we let him. But he’s athletic enough to get to the basket and dunk. He’s a gifted player.”
Troyer attended Lower Columbia College after being an all-league guard at Evergreen High School in Vancouver. He played at Lower Columbia for two years, then dropped out of school for a year as he worked for an electrical company.
He wondered if his basketball days were over.
“Yeah, I thought I might be done with it,” Troyer said. “But when basketball rolled around, and I wasn’t playing, I started to get the itch.”
Jeff Drinkwine, the former Evergreen coach, offered Troyer a scholarship, which he accepted.
“It’s worked out pretty well,” Troyer said.
Gail Wood: 360-754-5443 firstname.lastname@example.org theolympian.com/sports/blog