As part of its 40th Anniversary celebration, Division III begins its 40-in-40 series by recognizing the 12th anniversary of the death of a student-athlete who exemplified all of the division's attributes: Proportion, comprehensive learning, passion, responsibility, sportsmanship and citizenship.
After playing basketball professionally in Europe and the USBL, Dan Trant worked in the victim-witness program of the Hampden County (Mass.) district attorney's office, and then was a bond trader for Cantor Fitzgerald, working in the World Trade Center in Sept. 2001.
We all know someone, or know someone who knows someone who was affected by the events of Sept. 11, 2001 — a day no American will ever forget. In the darkness from that day, however, heroes emerged. Stories were told of family members and friends who lost their lives, and a warmth settled into people's hearts as they remembered the person they lost on the day nobody will ever forget.
Dan Trant was one of those lost, but nobody who knew him will ever forget the impact he made as a friend, as a father, as a hero, as one of the best basketball players to ever wear a jersey at Clark (Massachusetts).
In the early 1980s, Dan Trant's name was widely recognized in New England. His game spoke volumes as he led Clark to four straight trips to the Division III Men's Basketball Championship, including an Elite Eight berth as a junior and an appearance in the national championship game as a senior in 1984. During that 1983-84 season, he averaged 22.5 points, scored 30 points or more five times and was named to the All-America second team.
After he scored 30 points in a win at Amherst – minutes away from his hometown of Westfield – Amherst head coach Dave Hixson said, "Trant could play for anyone in New England, and that includes Boston College."
He was drafted in the 10th round of the 1984 NBA Draft by the Boston Celtics – the same draft that produced Hall of Famers Charles Barkley, Michael Jordan, Hakeem Olajuwon and John Stockton.
Today, a bench outside the gymnasium he helped fill with "Clarkies" during his career has a simple plaque, commemorating his accomplishments, and a "DT" is neatly stitched into the right chest of every Clark men's basketball uniform.
His legacy lives on.
"Who was Dan Trant?" someone will ask.
"A hero," many will answer.