The Oldest College Newspaper in Pennsylvania

The Lafayette

The Oldest College Newspaper in Pennsylvania

The Lafayette

The Oldest College Newspaper in Pennsylvania

The Lafayette

John Troxell: Standout coach, standout student, standout Leopard

Football head coach John Troxell has been a part of the Lafayette community for almost 35 years. (Photo courtesy of Lafayette Magazine)

John Troxell ’94, in just two years as the head coach of the Lafayette football team, has turned the Leopards’ fortunes around, leading them to their seventh-ever Patriot League championship and earning a nomination for the Eddie Robinson Coach of the Year award. However, these accolades only paint a portion of the illustrious legacy he has left on the school.

“I was a first-generation kid,” Troxell said. “Coming from where I came from, my dad worked in a factory and my mom did hair – she was a hairdresser – and so for me, it was where could I get the best football opportunity.

After a standout high school career for the nearby Phillipsburg Stateliners, Troxell decided to stay close to home and commit to a team that had just won its first-ever Patriot League championship in 1988.

Head coach John Troxell during his playing years at Lafayette. (Photo courtesy of Phil Labella)

“I had some success in high school, you know, I never thought I’d end up at Lafayette because it was too close to home,” Troxell said. “When I came on my visit, there were other local guys … They were coming off some success from the ’88 team, so I knew they were good and so I thought it was a great opportunity.”

A teammate of Troxell’s, former center Dave Levine ’92, recalled Troxell fondly.

“Trox was a couple years younger than I was, so I remember him coming in and I remember him being a local star,” Levine said. “I remember him being on the quieter side but on the field always making his presence felt.”

As many freshmen do, Troxell began his career on the scout team, giving the starting offense the defensive looks they would be seeing against the next opponent.

“When he was a freshman, I was a junior and he was on the scout team and I was starting and I just remember, when we did go against him, he would always be around the ball,” Levine said. “He was always involved.”

“I don’t think I got on the field until week six or seven — yeah, you’re a scout team guy, but you’re just a freshman,” Troxell said. “You’re just trying to understand everything that is going on.”

Off the field, Troxell said it was an effort to adapt to the rigorous Lafayette curriculum.

“We had one more class, you had to take five a semester and I would say, for me it was challenging, being a first-generation kid,” Troxell said. “I had some transitioning to do in the sense of figuring out how to study and what was expected.”

Throughout his first two years in the program, he worked his way up from the scout team to special teams until his junior season when he vaulted into the starting free safety position in 1992 — the same year the team hired Mike Joseph as a defensive backs coach.

“He could play everywhere,” Joseph said of Troxell. “We played him mostly in the middle of the field, but he also played on the hashes and in the middle, and he could also tackle really well, so what he lacked in foot speed he made up for in smarts.”

That year, the Leopards won their second Patriot League Championship and Troxell received the team’s Unsung Hero Award for his performance.

“The thing about John was that, when you coached him, he was an extension of yourself on the field,” Joseph said. “I mean, he was so smart and so bright that he knew what all 11 players on both sides of the ball were doing.”

Now as the head coach, Troxell is achieving success by using the same qualities that made him a successful player.

“People gravitated towards him then and they gravitate towards him now,” Levine said. “He has been very open and inclusive, he has kind of opened the doors and made it feel like it was our team again. I have seen so many people I haven’t seen in years coming back to see games.”

“John is just so relatable and so easy to talk to while also being an authoritative figure,” Joseph added. “He surrounds himself with people who are as smart as him and he learns from those people … He is not about ego, he is about overall success.”

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About the Contributor
Charlie Berman, Sports Editor
VAP, TRELL, KEHD (cheast, stew, help)

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