Trevor Hall takes it hard to hole in a game against St. Mary’s. Bethel would beat the Cardinals 79–70 to improve their record to 10–2. | Nathan Klok.

Following a legacy

Junior Bethel guard Trevor Hall has fun on court after learning from his brother Taylor

By Conrad Engstrom | Sports Reporter

Bethel basketball players sit in the locker room, their eyes damp knowing that their season is probably over. Head coach Doug Novak chokes up when talking about what this team meant to him. Some guys cry and some are reliving memories the season brought.

“That was the most fun I have ever had playing basketball,” sophomore guard Trevor Hall said.

Listed at 6 feet 0 inches, now a junior, Trevor Hall looks more like 5’9 than anything else. His wingspan makes it seem like he is taller when he forces an opposing player to the baseline, baiting him to throw it back up top just for his palms to tip the ball for a steal.

Not recruited out of high school, he came to Bethel because of his brother. Taylor, Trevor’s elder by five years, played three years for the Royals on his way to becoming an All-Conference, All-American, MIAC Player of the Year.

Taylor was a Spring Lake Park graduate, like his younger brother would be too, watching from the bench as the Spring Lake Park Panthers went to state his junior season. His senior year he got to play and after a loss in the section finals took an offer to play at Bemidji State.

Taylor, who stands 6’9", started 24 of the 27 games he played in at Bemidji State his freshman year, but he didn’t fit. The drugs and alcohol that were around the team and the locker room didn’t appeal to Taylor. He loved basketball but wanted a culture change. He decided to transfer.

When Taylor visited Bethel he noticed the atmosphere and culture difference. His future teammates at Bethel would not be abusing substances, but instead wanting to be a part of something greater. However, Bethel was not the only school interested Taylor’s abilities.

Taylor met with former Wisconsin basketball coach Bo Ryan about taking a walk-on position for the Badgers. Trevor was at home when Taylor declined the invitation to walk-on to Wisconsin.

“It would have been a cool opportunity but the fear factor of maybe never playing again and having Bemidji be my last game was enough for me not to go,” Taylor said.

Trevor looked up to his brother. He did not go to many games at Bemidji, but the transfer to Bethel made it easier for Trevor to go to games. He would watch him and learn from him. The good — his success on the court — and the bad — his constant complaining to the referees. Now when they play one on one at the local YMCA things will get out of hand because both are competitive. Trevor uses his quickness to get past his older brother and score. “I am still bigger than you,” Taylor will remind his younger brother. Trevor does not respond to the trash talk. He loves to play and does not let the other stuff get in the way of the game. They did not play much together growing up, but now both mature adults they play one-on-one for hours.

Taylor’s playing career may be finished and his former teammates at Bethel may think he does not play basketball anymore; however, the game he loves makes him forget what time it is sometimes.

“Sometimes I’ll I’ll be at the gym for 20 minutes shooting baskets,” Taylor said. “Then call [my wife] saying it might be a few hours before I am home.”

Their love for basketball brings Taylor and Trevor closer as brothers and challenges each other abilities on the floor. Trevor won’t talk to the referees as much as Taylor, but Trevor is not a 6’9 forward with post moves that would make Shaquille O’Neal proud.

“I was super small and tiny coming in and people were like ‘no way’, and there was kind of a disbelief but it did not really bother me.” — Trevor Hall, Bethel guard

As a senior in high school Trevor would show up to Bethel open gyms because his brother would let him play. He was known as “Taylor’s brother” by most which did not bother him as much as long as he still got to play.

“I was super small and tiny coming in and people were like ‘no way’,” Trevor said about being compared to his brother. “And there was kind of a disbelief but it did not really bother me.”

Trevor arrived on Bethel University campus in the fall of 2013, the basketball program at the time was going through changes as new Head Coach Doug Novak had just come from Tulane University to take the Bethel job. Since one of Trevor’s reasons for going to Bethel was his hearing stories from his brother, whose coach had just been fired, he did not know much about the new coach.

Trevor sat in a classroom in a fall meeting with the basketball team his freshman year. This would be his first encounter with the team’s new head coach Doug Novak. Trevor at the time was interested in playing basketball but he was still unsure as a freshman whether or not it was something he wanted to do moving forward.

“If you are just interested in playing basketball then you can leave this room right now and play golf. I don’t care,” Coach Novak said to what would be his first team at Bethel University.

Those words motivated Trevor. He indeed wanted to play basketball.

Doug Novak arrived on Bethel’s campus as the new basketball coach in June of 2013. Because he arrived so late in the process of recruiting, Coach Novak was only able to grab one of his recruits who ended up not fitting “the Bethel lifestyle” as Novak explained.

Novak navigated through the ups and downs of arriving late to a new job and a new program, he was hearing stories about all the players he would inherit. Upon hearing that Taylor Hall’s brother was an incoming freshman Novak got excited because he remembered Taylor’s big 6’9", 220 pound frame. He admits that he slumped a little when he saw Trevor for the first time.

“He has been defying the odds since the start.” — Doug Novak, coach

The coaching staff thought Trevor would be on the junior varsity team to start his career at Bethel as a freshman. They would start him up on the varsity practice and then move him down when the season would start. On one of the practices during the first weekend however, someone rolled an ankle and Trevor got put in. He made enough plays with the reps he got that Novak though he deserved to stay. By the first game he was starting.

“He has been defying the odds since the start,” Novak said.

However, by the end of the year Trevor found himself on the bench not getting a ton of minutes.

Trevor thrives off the nature of his coach. Whether he is punting basketballs to the ceiling, or starting his new tradition of having the team go out for ice cream after a road win. Coach Novak makes Trevor want to play basketball.

“He brought back a whole new level of my loving for basketball,” Trevor said about the impact coach Novak had on him.

Trevor drives the ball with his left hand on the scout team in practice. He hesitates at the free throw line putting the guy who is guarding him in a washing machine. He comes to a stop at the block, shows the ball, which makes the defender fly by, then Trevor forwards pivots back to make the layup off the glass.

“Center circle,” Coach Novak says signaling the end of practice as everyone closes in on center court clapping.

A few weeks later assistant coach Jed Moseman would joke about Trevor leading the team in center circle plays.

“We unofficially take that stat and Trevor is running away with it,” Moseman says.

Hall flashes a smile to camera before a game against Augsburg. The smile would not last as the Royals would lose at home to the Auggies, snapping their 15-game home winning streak that dated back to 2014. | Nathan Klok.

The coaches know what Trevor can do on the basketball court and so sometimes they wished that Trevor knew how good he was too.

“Not knowing how good he is. It’s a blessing and a curse that makes him extremely coachable,” Novak said. “But sometimes I think he forget that he is an elite athlete at this level. On the ball and off the ball he is an ‘A’ level player.”

It sounds wrong to hear a coach say that about a player. Especially a player that proved he was a starter as a freshman, can beat his brother in one-on-one games despite being 9 inches shorter, and be versatile enough to play three positions in Novak’s offensive system.

Trevor is big on good locker room guys and loves the team atmosphere of the game of the basketball. When he talks about his sophomore year. It is the season that he claims was the “most fun he had ever had playing basketball.” One of the reasons being that the guys he was playing with.

When he talks about former center Luke Buttenhoff who was a senior when Trevor was a freshman he says, “He had the footwork of a genie even though genies do not have feet.”

“No big expectations this year I just love to play. We talked about it as a team about setting goals and when you say you are going to get back to the MIAC Championship and we are going to win it just puts more pressure on us then just doing it and having fun it.” — Trevor Hall, Bethel guard

Trevor smiles when he talks about all the teammates he has had in his time at Bethel. He loves the time he gets to spend with them. He rooms with teammates Kyle Von Schmidt-Pauli, Brenndon Lebert, and Jackson Canfield in Heritage Hall. After the Royals upset the St. Olaf Oles in the 2015 MIAC playoffs, the team all jumped in St. Olaf’s pool to celebrate.

“I remember swimming with the guys and thinking ‘this is the most fun I have ever had with a group of guys playing basketball’,” Trevor said.

When Trevor talks about his goals it is like asking someone what happened on a bad first date. He does not say much.

“There are no big expectations this year,” Trevor said. “We talked about it as a team about setting goals and when you say you are going to get back to the MIAC Championship and we are going to win it just puts more pressure on us then just doing it and having fun it.”

Guess what? He’s having fun.

Hall’s scoring average by season

Freshman: 6.2 PPG

Sophomore: 7.2 PPG

Junior: 12.1 PPG

Note: Started 58 games started out of 70 games played.

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