Louis Trinca-Pasat, the youngest of five children and the only one born in this country, also was the only one who really had an interest in sports.
When Trinca-Pasat considered quitting football last winter, he turned to his family for guidance.
“My family in general, they all gave me good advice,” Trinca-Pasat said. “My dad told me, ‘If you leave, I can’t afford to pay for your school.
“You’re going to end up coming back home and getting a job at a local store.’”
The 6-foot-3, 270-pound sophomore defensive tackle from Chicago took a few days off from practice in early December as he considered his future.
“We tell them to just finish what they start,” said his mother, Estera Trinca-Pasat. “We teach them like that. Don’t give up.
“Keep going. Focus on that. You can do it. … And he did it and is doing pretty good. We’re really proud of him.”
Trinca-Pasat shot up to the top of the depth chart in the spring and hasn’t looked back. He has started all six games and has 19 tackles, including three for loss, and is part of the bedrock of one of the top defenses in the Big Ten.
It wasn’t an easy journey.
A three-star defensive end at Lane Tech High School in Chicago, Trinca-Pasat arrived at Iowa and was immediately slotted at defensive tackle.
“I’ve never taken on guys that big every down,” Trinca-Pasat said. “I think physically and mentally it beats you down.”
Trinca-Pasat came in weighing 235 pounds as a freshman. He had split out as a receiver in high school and also played outside linebacker and defensive end.
“At first, I didn’t care. Wherever they put me, I’d play,” Trinca-Pasat said. “Whatever got me on the field faster.”
But Trinca-Pasat wasn’t getting on the field. He was grinding away on the practice squad, getting shoved around by future NFL offensive linemen.
“I just didn’t understand the aspect of development at the time,” Trinca-Pasat said. “I was a hungry kid, and I wanted to get on the field. I think a lot of young guys have a hard time understanding.
“But I never questioned them. They are Division I coaches. They know what they’re doing. They see the long-term deal.”
Trinca-Pasat appeared in one game as a redshirt freshman. Grinding it out in practice was getting tough and former D-line coach Rick Kaczenski kept applying the pressure.
“He had a lot of intensity,” Trinca-Pasat said. “I think that it mentally made me more tough.”
After the final game of the regular season, Trinca-Pasat went in to see coach Ferentz and told him he was “burnt out.”
“He was kind of on the ropes back in December, quite frankly,” Ferentz said in the spring. “A young guy who really was starting to question where his heart was and how important it was to him, and it showed up in his performance.
“He was out there, he looked OK, but nothing to write home about.”
Trinca-Pasat was given a few days away from practice. He used it catch up on school, talk with his family and just decompress.
Romanian immigrants, his family convinced Louis that what he was doing was pretty important.
“At that time, my family explained to me this was a pretty big deal,” Trinca-Pasat said. “That re-opened my eyes a little bit. I didn’t have much confidence. I was thinking I can’t play here; I’m not good enough.”
He continued to get stronger over the winter and really turned heads during spring practice.
“By the second half of spring ball, he’s playing as well as anybody on the field either side of the ball,” Ferentz said back in April. “He’s clearly taken some steps.”
By the fall, Trinca-Pasat had cemented his role on a defensive line that was almost completely rebuilt from scratch.
“I love the game,” Trinca-Pasat said. “I definitely wasn’t going to walk away.”
He still tries to get home to see his family and friends. His mother and father enjoy the trips to Iowa City.
“It is really hard because we work,” Estera said. “But it is relaxing for us.
“We are really proud and happy.”
Expect a big crowd of friends and family when Iowa travels to Northwestern next week.
“Never let an opportunity pass you by, that’s what I was told,” Trinca-Pasat said. “My brothers told me to go out there and play; that’s what I’m doing.
“Do whatever you can the best you can, and whatever happens, happens. God will have a path for you.”
Category: Iowa Hawkeyes Football