Photo courtesy of Nick Ieradi

Jeff Trainor: From Cannons Fan to Cannons Difference Maker

By Grant DelVecchio

Jul 26, 2023

Jeff Trainor was eight years old the first time he put on Cannons gear. 

Back then, going to Boston Cannon games was a family event for the Trainors as Jeff and his older brother Daniel came of age in Billerica, Mass.

The brothers eventually played together for one season at Billerica Memorial High. Daniel went on to play at Southern New Hampshire University, and Jeff stayed even closer to home at UMass. 

All these years later, the Trainor brothers are still in Billerica – sticks in hand. Daniel’s influence on his younger brother’s journey from Cannons fan in the stands to Cannons difference maker on the field isn’t lost on Jeff. 

“My older brother doesn’t get enough credit for the leadership and direction that he’s provided [my younger sister and I],” Trainor noted. 

“He really flipped the switch for me and showed me the way…Since he's graduated college, he's discovered a newfound love for the game of lacrosse and it definitely has had an impact on me as well. I feel like I have a new appreciation for the game as well.”

Sentimental value aside, it took all of 10 minutes into his first conversation with Brian Holman for Trainor to decide he wanted to be a Cannon during free agency. That was in March. The following day, the 25 year-old signed to the Boom Squad as one of many new additions tasked with helping readjust the Cannons trajectory.

Now five games into his Cannons career, Trainor has done just that. The numbers aren’t eye-popping, but Trainor is a player whose impact lies beyond the box score. He’s an energizer, someone players want to play with and coaches want in their locker room.  

Coach Holman put it best after the Boom Squad’s most recent victory over Chrome, “Jeff Trainor: a winner, a guy that’s going to have your back. I go into a fox hole, Jeff Trainor might be the first guy I call.”

Trainor actually was one of the first guys Holman called back when the first year head coach began the process of establishing a new Cannons culture in the offseason. 

When you get to know Trainor, it’s easy to see why. In his third season as a pro, Trainor still speaks with all of the same fervor for the game that he had as a kid watching Paul Rabil and Mikey Powell put on for his favorite team inside Harvard Stadium. 

The only thing more pronounced than his thick Boston accent is the broad smile glued to his face.

“I play the game with so much happiness and joy, and I just try to let it show on the field. At the end of the day, I just try to be the best teammate that I can possibly be, because that's how I want to be remembered,” Trainor asserted.

“Win, lose, draw, all the points, all the ground balls, whatever. That stuff is really irrelevant if you're not an unbelievable teammate. That's something I learned at UMass and it will be the only way that I play moving forward in my pro career, however long this lasts.”

On the field, Trainor is an archetype for where the PLL is headed in relation to midfield play. An offensive-minded midfielder by trade, Trainor’s chief asset to this point in his pro career has been his speed and cover skills. 

With the pace of the pro game being as rapid as it is, Trainor’s ability to start on a wing and remain on the field without having to be subbed out, win or lose on the draw, has been an advantage for the Cannons. 

While at UMass, Trainor scored the fourth most points of any midfielder in program history. But when his roommate Charlie O’Brien went down with an injury during his graduate season in 2021, Trainor made it his responsibility to fill O’Brien’s defensive midfield role. That’s the type of teammate and player Trainor is: Selfless and team-oriented.

Those qualities further reveal themselves in something as simple as Trainor’s jersey number. Trainor wears number 43 as a reminder of where he came from. 43 is a retired number at UMass that honors the life and legacy of Eric Sopracasa, a former Minutemen lacrosse player who unfortunately lost his life on the practice field. 

“[Eric] was everything that UMass lacrosse embodies and he’s someone that we talk a lot about in that program. I knew once I got drafted, I was going to be number 43 just because it was going to show that I am a UMass lacrosse guy and that I wouldn't have been where I am today without that program.” 

For Trainor, team and family are synonymous. That’s where the double entendre kicks in.

“And then my brother wore 43 in college, so it just makes all the sense for me to wear that number and I will wear it until I retire.”

But Trainor still has a long way to go before he considers retirement. Last month, he competed in his first ever World Games; helping Team Italy secure a ninth-place finish in San Diego. Trainor’s Italian heritage comes from his mother’s side, and he is currently in the process of applying for dual-citizenship. He was able to travel to Italy in advance of the World Games, and is already planning on heading back at the conclusion of the PLL season.

“I just have the utmost gratitude towards this game of lacrosse. It's given me more than I could have ever imagined. It's allowed me to travel to places I would have never been able to go to otherwise and allowed me to meet people that I would have never met before,” Trainor said.

“I come from a town where lacrosse is pretty prominent, and then to go into places where it's not as developed and you can see all the areas where the future's so bright in this game. It's just unbelievable to be a part of. This is all gravy for me.”

This perspective and the gratitude that Trainor carries with him daily is what has made him a crucial part of the Cannons success and new identity this season. Years ago, Trainor would’ve done anything for a Boston Cannons Mikey Powell jersey. Nowadays, there will be young lacrosse fans growing up in or around Boston who are asking for Jeff Trainor jerseys. Their parents should run to get them.

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