Being a captain of a team has its share of responsibilities.
But Bangor native Morgan Trimper has found herself having to go above and beyond the call of duty as the captain of the University of Maine’s women’s ice hockey team after the team’s head coach, Richard Reichenbach, and his assistant, wife Sara Reichenbach, resigned last week.
The 22-year-old is now embracing the challenge of running the team while UMaine searches for a new head coach, with the team’s first official practice just three weeks away on Monday, Aug. 29.
“This isn’t something I thought would happen but, at the same time, I am in this position for a reason. People trust me to be able to lead this team,” said Trimper, whose twin sister, Ally, is also on the team.
She understands people may feel sympathetic toward her, but she said they don’t need to pity her.
“I know people feel I am in a hard position, but I feel that I’m lucky,” she insisted.
“I am grateful to be in this position. This is something I have worked for. I have prepared myself for it although not necessarily for this type of situation,” she said. “This is a good challenge for me. I want to be the best leader I can be.”
Her goal for the month of August is to build team camaraderie and ensure everybody is physically ready for the season.
“Everybody has to be willing to work hard in order to be ready for the first game.”
Trimper said she has been overwhelmed by the level of support she has received, with UMaine men’s hockey coach Ben Barr and his assistant, Jason Fortier, being at the top of the list, along with outgoing UMaine athletic director Ken Ralph and UMaine men’s hockey sports performance coach Codi Fitzgerald.
“I have never felt alone in this. I’ve received a tremendous amount of support from them. Everybody has been more than generous. I’ve leaned on them for personal advice on how to be the best leader I can,” she said.
Barr said the program is lucky to have Morgan, as well as her twin sister.
“She has been proactive. She asked me the other day what she can do to make [the transition] as easy as possible for the new coach,” Barr said. “That is a really mature way to look at things. And Ally has been very good, too.”
Others she has reached out to include her father, former UMaine baseball coach and current Stetson University coach Steve Trimper; current UMaine baseball coach Nick Derba; and former Eastern Connecticut State baseball coach Bill Holowaty, who coached her dad.
The school is in the process of hiring a sports performance coach so Fitzgerald has been doing double duty to help them get ready for the season.
“He has really stepped up for us and we all respect him for that. He wants us to be the best we can be,” she said.
Barr and Fortier have helped lay out an on-ice regimen for the team when they have their captain’s practices.
Maddie Giordano, a player on the team last season who is going to be a volunteer coach this season, has also been valuable, according to Trimper.
“The culture we have right now is the best we’ve had since I’ve been here,” said Trimper, who is a senior but plans to return for a fifth year with her sister in 2023-24. “Everybody is working hard and is super motivated to make us the best team we can be.”
She has communicated with her teammates and said “everyone is on the same page.”
Trimper has complete faith in Ralph and the search committee to make the right hire, and she has told her teammates to be “open-minded and coachable” when the new coach arrives.
She said the team will approach this as a fresh start, and they all know they are going to have to prove themselves to the new coach.
She has high expectations for the team.
“We return a lot of upperclassmen and the transfers and freshmen are very skilled players,” Trimper said.
“We want to win the Hockey East championship.”
UMaine has reached the Hockey East semifinals the past three seasons and in four of the last five. They were eliminated in the semis.
The Trimper twins were three-sport athletes for two years at Bangor High School before they transferred to the Taft School in Watertown, Connecticut.
They played on Bangor’s Class A state championship soccer team in 2015 and also played on the boys ice hockey team and the softball squad.
She is excited for the season, saying it could be “very rewarding.”
“Hopefully the work and effort being put in will pay off and we’ll have some good results,” Trimper said.