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A Hockey Player with Heart
Peter Trovato ’05 finds a way to honor soldiers who made the greatest sacrifice

—Matt Vautour

Peter Trovato
Peter Trovato (photo by Ben Barnhart)
PETER TROVATO WAS IN A bad mood when he walked into the Mullins Center on February 12 for that night’s game. Like most of his teammates, the senior forward for the UMass hockey team was still reeling from the previous night’s 8-1 loss at the hands of Hockey East powerhouse New Hampshire.

That mood lingered when he stepped on the ice—until he heard a fan cheering his name. Trovato’s attitude improved when he looked into the stands and saw Paul Culpin.

Trovato and several of his teammates have regularly volunteered at the Grove Street Inn, a Northampton homeless shelter. On one of those trips he met Culpin, a former Charlestown High School hockey player, who was down on his luck. The two talked hockey for a while and both left the conversation in better spirits.

“It felt good to see a guy like that in the stands,” Trovato said. “I thought to myself, things could be a lot worse. This guy doesn’t have a car and he finds a way to get the Mullins Center. That’s how much it means to him.”

Trovato graduates this spring with a double major in journalism and political science. While he’s been a four-year fixture on the Minutemen’s checking line and penalty-killing unit, you won’t find his name in the school’s record books.

But few athletes, or students for that matter, who leave Amherst have had a bigger impact on the community than Trovato. His volunteer work has made him a finalist for college hockey’s Humanitarian of the Year honor.

Trovato is quick to point out that he’s not alone. He and his teammates have been active not only at Grove Street, but with an amputee hockey camp, Big Brothers and Big Sisters, and several other programs.

Most noteworthy among those, for Trovato, is the Massachusetts Soldiers Legacy Fund.

While interning last summer for State Representative Mike Rush, Trovato’s responsibilities included scouring newspapers and finding stories that would interest Rush. Trovato found himself continually moved by accounts of soldiers from Massachusetts dying in Iraq and Afghanistan.

“You’re reading stories about a 30-year-old kid who had a six-month-old daughter or a 40-year-old police officer who was a National Guardsman that had three kids,” Trovato said. “This is real. This is not some fake war that you’re desensitized to. This brings it home. I wondered if there was anything I could do to honor that type of sacrifice.”

Trovato founded the Massachusetts Soldiers Legacy Fund (MSLF) to grant scholarships to the children of those fallen soldiers.

“This has been a divisive war, but the fund moves all the politics aside,” Trovato said. “It’s something to honor service, these fathers and mothers that go over there and don’t come back.”

He’s recruited professionals to help him set up the legal and financial parameters, while spending hours of his own time raising money and enlisting volunteers. During the season, in addition to schoolwork and hockey, he spent hours talking on the phone and sending e-mails to keep his project moving forward.

Trovato recently signed a contract to finish the season with the minor league Johnstown Chiefs. He’s considering law school and maybe even running for office down the road after his hockey career is over. But whatever he does, he said, the MSLF will be part of his plans.

“We’re working toward the goal of having a million dollars in that fund so we can make a significant impact on those children’s lives,” he said. “I plan on raising one to two million dollars within 10 years. I knew it was a big commitment going into this. I don’t plan on failing with this. I plan on succeeding.”

People interested in donating or helping can find more information at www.mslfund.org.


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