March  2009

Tony Traver - Class of 1980

Tony came of age before the ubiquity of cable television, home video games and personal computers. In the mid 1970s to the early 1980s, school sports in Greenwich were easily the biggest shows in town and Tony Traver was almost larger than life. On a Friday night in Greenwich, the flood of spectators unable to fit into the gym would be accommodated with a live feed of the game broadcast to television monitors set up in the auditorium.

Tony is the first extol the talents and dedication of his high school teammates and tell you that one player does not win basketball games. This is certainly true, but it is indisputable that many fans throughout the region descended on Greenwich to watch Tony Traver play basketball, to see if he was really that good. Even twenty-nine years later, those in the know will tell you that his legend is well-earned and that, unlike many players of yesteryear, he would be even more dominant in today’s game, with the advent of the three-point shot.

Tony started on the varsity basketball team for four years. Over his final two seasons, his teams were 46-4 (27-1 in Wasaren League play) and won two league titles, a Class C-CC Sectional crown and a Regional championship. He graduated as the all-time leading single season  and career scorer in Section II history (866 points in '79-'80 and 2,189 career points). Only five other GCS boys in school history have scored 1,000 points. He was first-team All-State in his junior and senior years and was New York State Small School Player of the Year. He was every local newspaper’s area MVP and a McDonalds All America, Honorable Mention. He played on the Empire State Games basketball team four times and was captain of the gold medal team in 1980. Years after he graduated high school, one of the Albany Area television stations named an all-time high school all-star team for Section 2 and Tony was prominent among first-teamers.

In private moments, Tony will concede that it was not always easy being a teenager in the continuous glare of the limelight. His parents had divorced, his father, the late John    Tony throws down 2 points for GCS     Traver, was his coach and being so visible in a small town and school invited scrutiny of his accomplishments and some magnification of mistakes. Most who know Tony will tell you that his ultra-competitiveness is what elevated him past other great athletes and that this same quality could also manifest as an understandable “edge.” Today, Tony looks back on his Greenwich days with great appreciation and fondness, but he is not a “glory days” kind of person. He knows that his greater achievements have been earned throughout his years following high school.

Passing on opportunities to attend more athletically prominent schools, Tony accepted a full athletic scholarship to attend The College of William and Mary, America’s Alma Mater and college of Presidents Jefferson, Monroe and Tyler. Tony was a four-year starter, Rookie of the Year, two- time Defensive Player of the Year and was a first team all- league rookie. He was team captain in his senior year and led the Nation in free throws for the majority of his junior year, ending up in the top five. He set school records for most consecutive free throws and most consecutive field goals. His teams posted wins against Virginia and Wake Forest, both top ten teams at the time. William and Mary was undefeated in the Colonial Conference in his sophomore season and made the National Invitation Tournament.  After earning his Bachelor of Business Administration Degree, Tony participated in several on-site National Football League (NFL) tryouts at William and Mary and later declined offers to play professional basketball overseas or accept a tryout in the Continental Basketball League (CBA).

Following college, Tony returned to Greenwich, working and enjoying regional athletics for fun and competition. Over the years, many who have heard of Tony Traver, the basketball star, are unaware that he played four years of varsity baseball and was a two-time Sectional Champion, leading point scorer for two years and set five school records in track and field. He even competed in cross-country and golf. Back in Greenwich, following college, Tony was a three-year starter (quarterback, running back, wide receiver and punter) for the Glens Falls Greenjackets. He was the Rookie MVP and led the league in punting. He also played center field for the Glens Falls Colonels, batting .395 in his final season, while leading the team in home runs and runs batted in.

Today, Tony lives in Williamsburg, Virginia, with his wife, Kari (Guillen) Traver, a Chief Information Officer Tony met in his W&M days.  Kari and Tony have three children: Tyson (a Radford University graduate), Aaron, a “future pilot” (United States Air Force Academy Class of 2010) and Victoria (Radford University Class of 2012). The Travers recently purchased a second home, in Greenwich, and Tyson is teaching and coaching modified basketball at GCS. Tony is passionate about his family and recognizes that no other accomplishment comes close to his twenty-five years of marriage to Kari and raising three children. He is also especially proud of his strong family bonds with siblings Andrea (Traver) Johnson (GCS Class of ’82), Michael Traver (’83) and Rick (’85). He also prizes his lasting friendships with several fellow GCS alums.     

Currently, Tony is employed at Tecchemet, LLP, which is based in Houston, Texas. Techemet is a precious metals smelter/refinery. Tony procures “PGM” (platinum, palladium, rhodium) scrap metal for processing into commercial grade “sponge” metal, which is then sold on the open market, chiefly to automobile manufacturers. Techemet has an international presence, although Tony’s main source of material is the United States. He has had the good fortune to travel extensively, due to the nature of his job.  He is also a partner in a small aviation company that leases back planes to a flight school. Other work experience includes Fund Accountant for a small company that dealt with IPO Mutual Funds, positions in the financial and banking fields and basketball coaching at various levels.

Reflecting on his early Greenwich days, Tony credits many. “The community of Greenwich helped build and shape my foundation from which I launched into my future.  Experience is the totality of encounters and observations from which you build wisdom.  GCS /Greenwich, although a small, middle class arena, fostered and nurtured me to dream and pursue those dreams.  In pursuit of those dreams I learned that the quest is the most important part, because most of us will face obstacles along the way and how we react to and recover from these trials defines us. I believe that in addition to my family’s strength, it was the lessons I learned growing up with my mother (Helene Beck Traver, of Saratoga Springs), sister and brothers and my GCS/Greenwich community that have shaped me.”

Tony briefly hesitates in naming GCS mentors: “The list is so long and I’m afraid I’ll leave a special person out…My youth was affected and guided by Mrs. Aldous, John Pemrick and Dick Worthington. Their strong presence and encouragement helped shape my outlook. In my transition years of Junior High, I met Coach McGuire.  He had a big influence in my life and always raised the bar. I am fortunate to be able to call him ‘Coach.’  I would fear walking down the hall at GCS today, if I did not give kudos to Emily Van Driel. She was always there when you needed her. I also want to thank Dot Filer, for her effervescent smile, each day at lunch: she would  brighten up your day. Of course I would be remiss if I did not mention our principal, our leader, Dr. Fitzgerald. He challenged me everyday to be better. However, the staff member that made the biggest difference in my life was my dearly departed “Dad,” Coach John Traver.”

Tony believes that the qualities required for success in his field are “pretty much the same things it takes to be successful in anything- continued education in all areas, never stop learning, character-what do you do when no one is looking, desire and determination to succeed and dare to make a difference.”

‘Wear and tear’ injuries have taken their toll and Tony now chooses to limit his athletic participation primarily to golf. In the GCS gym, the painted tribute to his basketball career rests on a wall in the corner of the gym, partially obscured by safety railings installed with new bleachers. If the legend of his high school basketball career is yielding to the shadows of time, one gets the sense that this is just fine with Tony. He is happy, successful and accomplished in the moment and has always lived for the challenges of the future

                        
From left to right: Tyson, Victoria, Kari, Aaron and Tony Traver


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