By Michele Dotson
Although Independence High School Assistant Principal John Trela officially retired last June, he has continued to announce home football games as he has done for the past 10 years.
“I’ve enjoyed it more than I can tell you,” says Trela. “To me, it’s just so much fun. Seeing the kids on the field, and then going on to see them in college games, and then some of them on Monday night football; it’s thrilling.”
This year has been a bit of a challenge for Trela, who was diagnosed three years ago with polycystic kidney disease, a genetic disorder in which clusters of noncancerous cysts develop within the kidneys.
“Once I was diagnosed, I was put immediately on the list for a transplant,” he says.
Trela’s sister suffered from the same disorder and received her transplant about four years ago.
“We had a game against West Meck on a Thursday,” says Trela. “I knew I was close to the top of the list so I figured I’d wait it out here.”
Trela’s wife Cathy has held a position at Marist College in Poughkeepsie, NY for about two and a half years and the two have commuted back and forth until John’s official retirement. He took the time in Charlotte to ready their house for the market and finish packing for a final move once he recovered from the impending surgery.
After two weeks of waiting, Trela decided to head to New York and spend some time with his wife and wait there.
“Just above Salisbury, at the Harmony exit, I got the call,” he says. “So I turned around and five hours later I was in surgery.”
“Thankfully everything has gone pretty smoothly, and the kidney is working fine,” he says.
And two short weeks later, he was back in the press box, which has been filling before games with fans, friends and colleagues checking on his progress and wishing him well.
Trela moved to Charlotte from upstate New York in 1997 after 26 years in education. For 13 years he was an English teacher at Westmoreland High School, and then for another 13 years he worked on creating and implementing a program for at-risk youth through the New York State Boards of Cooperative Education Services (BOCES).
Arriving in Charlotte in 1997, he spent two years each at Wilson and Quail Hollow Middle Schools, and then another two years at Vance High School before landing at Independence as an assistant principal in 2002.
“I started announcing the JV football and baseball games my second year at Independence,” says Trela, who had spent some time as a part time radio announcer and DJ in New York. “I did some of the varsity games when Joe Ledford couldn’t be there.”
Trela took over permanently when Ledford left the post so he could attend North Mecklenburg High School games where his son was playing.
Trela has a love for all things sports. He played “everything” in high school. He played college basketball at Oneonta State, and coached high school basketball and football. His son Casey is also into sports, and it was something they could do together.
“It’s a great way to stay involved,” he says.
His favorite team? The New York Giants, for which he takes personal credit for no fewer than four of their Super Bowl victories.
“My son Casey was born on October 22, 1986. From that day forward, the Giants went on to an undefeated season and won the Super Bowl,” he says. The same pattern held true for daughter Katlyn, born in January of 1991. Then in 2004, the Trelas became legal guardians of Morgan, and the Giants again went undefeated and won the Super Bowl. Then their former Brazilian exchange student returned to the US for a holiday visit with her “American Mom and Dad,” and, you guessed it, the Giants once again went undefeated and won the Super Bowl, this time with Independence graduate Hakeem Nicks on the team.
“I’m not in any hurry, but maybe some grandkids would get the streak going again,” he jokes.
So what’s the first thing he’s going to do in official full retirement?
“I’m going to happily spend some more time with my wife,” he says.
Trela will be back in the helm for this week’s home game against Butler and he plans to stick around through any playoff games Indy might be part of, then it’s off to his new life in Poughkeepsie.
And to you, Mr. Trela, in honor of your years of service to young adults in the classroom and on the playing fields, we salute you with your own words.
“Goodnight, and have a safe drive home.”