GLENVILLE, W.Va. – Gilmer County all-state guard, Trinity Bancroft, learned this winter that she would miss most of this season due to a medical diagnosis.
That diagnosis was the latest obstacle surrounding her basketball career since the start of last year’s state tournament, which was interrupted and then canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
As you’ll see, though, that initial setback one year ago, and its lasting affects that we’re still seeing to this day, may have just saved her the possibility of having a junior season on the court after all.
I spoke with Trinity earlier this week about her diagnosis and condition, what a year it’s been, and what a comeback to the court it will be.
Friday, March 12, 2021 marks one year to the day of the last time Trinity Bancroft last stepped on the court in a high school basketball game.
“The atmosphere was real loud and exciting, and when we were on the court we were getting back-to-back buckets and forcing all of these turnovers. It was really exciting.”
No one knew at the time that the COVID-19 pandemic would cancel the rest of the 2020 girls basketball state tournament, and the conclusion of her sophomore season.
“That was our (family’s) first trip down there. We were pretty excited about it, to experience that. So, it was kind of heart breaking, there were tears shed.”
The pandemic possibly cost the Lady Titans a chance to play for a state title. Gilmer County won its quarterfinal game in convincing fashion, causing a Single-A tournament record 44 turnovers.
There’s no way of knowing if Gilmer County would’ve won it all last year, but the way they were playing before they got to Charleston, and certainly once the tournament began, a state title was surely within reach.
December 2020 – February 2021
The pandemic also pushed back the start of the 2021 high school basketball season.
It was in December, when high school basketball is normally getting underway, that Bancroft noticed she wasn’t feeling right.
“I had constant headaches,” she said. “Then one night I was trying to massage my head and make it feel better, and I felt a knot on my head, and it was sensitive. We decided to get it checked out. I went to multiple hospitals and stayed for a week in Cleveland. And it kept growing, so I had to have the surgery.”
It was at that Cleveland area hospital that Trinity was diagnosed with Langerhans cell histiocytosis. She had a benign tumor on the left side of her head.
Trinity came home from her week’s stay in Cleveland just before Christmas.
Six weeks later, on February 3, she had surgery in Morgantown to have it removed.
“It was pretty nerve wracking. We didn’t really know what it was until the end. So, we went a couple months wondering. I was really glad it wasn’t cancerous or anything like that. I was bummed out about not being able to play with them, but I do think the season getting pushed back was really a blessing for me, because then I really wouldn’t have been able to play at all.”Trinity Bancroft
Bancroft, luckily, says she was able to go home on the same day as her surgery, but was on bed rest in the days that followed.
Since then, there’s been two goals in mind: Stay healthy, and get back on the court.
Trinity is still recovering and rehabbing.
While she can’t take part in any physical contact until she’s medically cleared, she says she’s able to do some cardio and other exercises to rebuild her muscles.
The high school basketball regular season began this month.
And while she can’t suit up and be out on the court with her teammates, she’s finding ways to be there for her team.
“I still try to be a leader off the court. I’m constantly telling them things I see from the sidelines. What they should be doing and stuff. And just hyping them up when they get buckets I’m real excited.”
Trinity was on the bench with her team for their season opener on March 5 at South Harrison — a step closer to normalcy.
The season being pushed back all the way to March could ultimately be a blessing in disguise for Bancroft. With the season starting late, and the sectional round of the playoffs scheduled for the middle of April — roughly a full month after the girls basketball season would be over in any other year — there’s a chance she could return to the court for the Lady Titans’ latest postseason run.
“It’s going to be a big relief, honestly. (We) got a taste of states last year, and that’s all they’ve really been wanting to get back to. For me, I wanted to lead them there and be a big role on the team this year.”
When I spoke with Trinity a few weeks ago, the sectional tournament was the goal for when she hoped to be playing her first games.
As of this week: “I hope to have some games before then,” she said. “I know I’m not going to be 100 percent when I come back. I’ll have to get into shape. But I hope to be back where I was by sectionals.”
What’s Next for Trinity Bancroft:
“When will you be back?”
Trinity says that’s the question she’s gotten the most throughout this process. It’s a question that provides some normalcy in a situation and a time that is anything but normal.
The Lady Titans, ranked No. 1 in Class A, will be one of the top teams in the state regardless of whether or not Trinity plays this year. But the people of Glenville and Gilmer County, who are so prideful in their GCHS girls basketball team, know that with her there’s potential to raise another banner.
Bancroft keeps her faith, and aims to be back on the court this season.
It’s a goal that wouldn’t be possible without her and her team’s original obstacle one year ago today.
She said she has an appointment on a later date in March where, if all goes well and all scans come back clean, she could get the all clear to return to the court.
Trinity can’t wait for that moment.
And whether it is this season, or next, that Trinity get’s back on the court, all of Gilmer County can’t wait for that moment either.