Becky Groves sat in the stands behind the Century volleyball bench during the Class 2A state final at Ritchie Coliseum on Nov. 16, where the Knights were playing in their program’s second state championship match.
Only when there was a lapse in noise during the match did Groves make her presence known as she offered support for the Knights and her brother Bryan Trumbo, who was in his first state championship game as a head coach.
Groves had been in that position before when she guided the Knights to a title in 2011. Groves and their father, Dave Trumbo, who coached at Liberty from 1996-2006 and led the Lions to state championships in 2003 and 2004, were awaiting for her brother’s chance to reap similar benefits.
“We wanted him to win so badly and we had fun cheering for him,” Groves said. “In the stands, you can’t do anything to change anything. It’s completely out of your control. So I don’t know what’s more stressful, coaching or being a fan.”
Groves said her 4-year-old daughter reminded her during the 2A final that it wasn’t her game to coach, but the cheering didn’t need to subside as the Knights defeated Oakdale in four sets to capture the state title.
“I think we’ve been really blessed with talent,” Bryan Trumbo said. “With that talent, we have learned from our dad how to highlight our star players and show how much we can believe in them and find roles for each player. We do a nice job of highlighting and empowering our players to think they can do something they might not think they can do.”
Groves took over Century’s program in 2009 after the Knights faced struggles in previous seasons. Trumbo was an assistant coach at Liberty when the Lions won their third state title in 2008, and he became Lions head coach in 2009.
A rivalry brewed between the two programs with the siblings coaching on opposite sides of the court for the next three seasons. The teams met in the playoffs for the first time in 2011 and the Knights came back from a two-set deficit to beat the Lions 3-2.
“Liberty was up 13-9 in the fifth game, and I called a timeout and was like, ‘You’ve got to get it together,’“ Groves said. “It was a whole speech.”
“I really thought we were going to do it,” Trumbo interjected.
The Knights reeled off the final six points to win, and later won a state crown. Trumbo, who was 24 at the time, said he didn’t handle the loss very well and scheduled a housewarming party the day of Century’s championship match.
Trumbo said he hugged his sister after leading the Knights to their state title victory over Oakdale and apologized for his selfishness eight years prior.
“Well, at least you know,” Groves responded.
Groves and Trumbo coach on the same sideline now, but in a different sport. Groves became Century’s girls lacrosse head coach in 2011 and Trumbo joined as her assistant in 2014.
“I can’t be an assistant for just anybody,” Trumbo said. “I can only be an assistant for a head coach I respect and I know they’re going to put the right people in and do things how I would do them. I can never undermine her, she’ll call me out.”
Groves described her coaching style as “intense,” and said she is very much the “bad cop” on the sideline. She said her brother’s style is inspiring and motivational — a “good cop,” so to speak.
She wants her program to get the job done and find the best possible way to win every game. The Knights have won eight state championships in girls lacrosse, and three of those came under Groves (2012, 2015, 2017).
The two complement one another, and Groves said it takes a special person to be her assistant.
“I like to rule the roost,” she said. “I like to make the decisions. At the end of the day, I’m the one that’s going to make the call. Do I like taking other people’s input? Yes, but he knows when to give it as well.”
A family legacy
Dave Trumbo guided the Lions to nine county championships and six regional titles in 11 seasons. He joined Stevenson University’s staff as the women’s volleyball coach in 2006, and since then the program has totaled 312 wins, produced 17 All-Americans, 37 All-Conference selections, three Player of the Year selections, and three Rookie of the Year picks.
The Mustangs have made nine straight appearances to the NCAA Division III tournament from (2011-19, and they set a school record with 37 wins in 2013.
Dave Trumbo stood next to his son on the court at Ritchie Coliseum as the Knights practiced prior to the start of the state final two weeks ago. Becky and Bryan’s mother Fran, a college field hockey and women’s lacrosse official, was also present. Together, Dave, Becky, and Bryan have won a combined four state championships in volleyball for Carroll County.
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“I think everyone knows that when they come across a Trumbo that we are going to do our best to win,” Bryan Trumbo said. “We go about it in a way that’s classy, but at the end of the day we’re going to put the right people out there no matter who is friends with who or what class they’re in.”