Faith, Football, Family; The Bourguet’s ties that bind

In Southern Arizona, it’s hard to find a family in athletics more widely known and universally loved than the Bourguets. Since the kids were young, they’ve been involved in all sorts of athletics, but their primary love and focus was football.

With Toby coaching their youth team while Vanessa would record the games, it quickly became a family affair for the Bourguets.

“I think that just growing up playing in those Marana flag football games right at Crossroads Park, those are unforgettable times,” Treyson said. “Trenton, we used to call him T-time. Coben, we called him c-money, they called me Animal and they called Rylen lockdown. There’s just so many memories that come from growing up together.”

Trenton, the oldest of the bunch, would play quarterback. Coben, the middle, would play receiver or defense, and Treyson would play a little bit of everything. Even Rylen, their younger sister, got in on the action and would play with the boys as a receiver.

As they continued to grow, the boys eventually reached high school and took the next step in their careers, while Rylen started playing volleyball and soccer. Time continued to flash before their eyes, and before they knew it, their “baby of the three” oldest boys was off to college.

For Toby and Vanessa, the fact their kids are in the position to even attend college and play football is huge. But, as faith would have it, their children would get an opportunity to see their hard work payoff this season as their journey at the next level continued together.

For Treyson, the moment came leading up to Western Michigan’s game against Miami this season after a tough battle from the start of the season.

Meanwhile for Trenton, the journey to the field came with a few more challenges. After entering the game for an injured Emery Jones in early October and leading the Sun Devils to a win over Washington, it still wasn’t enough to solidify his role as the new starting quarterback for a struggling Sun Devil team.

Trenton was pushed back to the second-string spot for the following game against Stanford before Aguano decided to re-evaluate the quarterback competition. Leading up to the game against Colorado, Aguano officially handed the keys to the offense over to Trenton, who helped the Sun Devils pick up their third win of the season and their first win on the road.

While the opportunity for both Treyson and Trenton to start as quarterbacks at their respective universities is huge for each of them, the bond that football provides for the entire Bourguet family goes much deeper, and stems back to their early childhood days.

Growing Up Bourguet

From a young age, the boys were always involved in athletics of all sorts. As the children of two former athletes, they all agree it was no surprise they were immersed into sports at a young age. Trenton, who’s dream is to become a college football coach, started drawing up plays when he was five years old as Toby worked with him to break down the game.

“I saw an interview of Tiger Wood’s dad once on the Johnny Carson Show,” Toby said. “He was breaking down how he explained the distances when Tiger was really little to try to get Tiger to understand what club to use.”

Being a young dad at the time, he decided to try applying that logic to football when teaching Trenton about the game. Deciding to be as detailed as he could, he broke the game down so Trenton was able to get a working concept despite being just a kid. From there, they were able to work on drills in the backyard and put what he was learning into motion.

“He was like four years old and I used to have him run the patterns and I would tell him what defense was out there,” Toby said. “He would run the pattern that was for that defense. Then I would have him go to quarterback and tell me what pattern to run and I would just tell him what defense he was looking at.

As the family continued to grow, the boys spent time studying plays and practicing together in the backyard.

“Trenton was literally two years old and he would throw spirals,” Toby said.

Some of their family’s fondest memories stem from their time when the boys were still young.

“Ever since I can remember, just running around in the grass,” Coben said. “Just playing football and sports and growing up in the backyard.”

Photo Credit: Toby Bourguet

But their time playing together outside left arguably the biggest impression on the lone girl of the Bourguet bunch, Rylen, who the boys gracefully admit is the best athlete in the family. While Rylen has forged her own path in sports and become a ferocious competitor, it started at a young age.

“I film, so we have hours and books of DVDs and footage, and the best part is the off the field sound and what kids are saying,” Vanessa said.

She continued, “Rylen, before she can even play, you can hear her telling me, ‘Mama, mama I want a mouth piece.’ And I go, ‘Honey, honey when you’re ready, we’ll get you a mouthpiece,’ and I’m filming while I’m telling her, and she goes, ‘but I’m ready now!’ That is one of my favorite memories.”

As soon as Rylen was old enough to play flag football, she hit the ground running and made a ruckus everywhere she went. It didn’t matter she was the only girl on the team; She was a playmaker for them. Toby can very fondly recall the time she single-handedly put a beatdown on a team from Texas.

“Of course the boys, they kind of slacked on defense with Rylen, and Rylen took them to town,” Toby said. “She scored, we got the ball back. She scored again, I think she got a pick six. So by the time the other team even looked up, Rylen was up 21-0 by herself.”

Restoring Marana’s Legacy

As the boys continued to grow, they decided to enroll at Marana High School under then coach Andy Litten, where their family has a long lineage. For Trenton, the first two years of his high school career brought with it a lot of new learning experiences and opportunities.

His freshman year, Trenton was the back up varsity quarterback, but he still got to see the field when the starter broke his hand that year. The following season as a sophomore, he split time with the other quarterback on the roster. But he didn’t just play quarterback that season; Litten said Trenton was committed to doing whatever it took to make the team better.

“We put him all over the place,” Litten said. “He played corner, he played safety. As an undersized guy in high school, he was just awesome. By the time he was a junior, it was finally his show.”

By the time Trenton was a senior, Treyson was finally a freshman while Coben was a junior, giving the boys a final opportunity to play football together. Trenton was the starting quarterback, Coben would play the starting quarterback for JV and as a receiver for varsity, and Treyson was able to do a little bit of everything for the varsity squad that season.

“That was a super cool experience, just all three of us on the same field,” Coben said. “Just the opportunities and the different options we had to do stuff on offense.”

“One of my favorite football experiences was at Cienega, my freshman year and Trenton’s senior year,” Treyson said. “Just, being able to throw a touchdown to Trenton. Seeing Trenton throw a touchdown to Coben. Trenton also throwing a touchdown to Isaiah Roebuck, my cousin. Us sharing the field, one last time, just like we used to do growing up. That has to be a top three moment, not just in football but in my life.”

“I remember a specific play where Trenton would take the snap, he’d throw it back to Treyson on a swing, and Treyson would throw the ball down to a receiver, and it if happened to be me, it would be me,” Coben said. “Just to be able to utilize all of us and take advantage of our athletic abilities was super cool.”

Photo Credit: Toby Bourguet

Former Marana Head Coach Andy Litten recalled what it was like coaching the trio on the field that season for the Tigers.

“They were all super willing to sacrifice and do whatever it took for Marana to be great,” Litten said.

Toby was also an assistant coach with the team that season, which Litten noted made it even more special.

Following the completion of the 2018 football season, Litten and Trenton both left Southern Arizona.

Litten left Marana for a coaching job at Hamilton High School, while Trenton packed up and headed to Arizona State as a walk-on quarterback. Trenton had received a handful of smaller offers, but he knew he had the ability to compete with some of the best in the country, so he elected to follow his heart.

“I knew what I was capable of doing, I just needed a shot,” Trenton said. “Three weeks before graduation, I visited ASU and they told me I’d be a walk-on and a scout team quarterback.”

“I took it as disrespect,” Treyson said. “To me, that’s the nation’s number one quarterback… Letting someone like that go, I took that as disrespect and I wanted to make sure that never happened again. It helped motivate me and inspire me to work even harder.”

Meanwhile, Coben and Treyson made the decision to transfer to Salpointe Catholic High School for the 2019-2020 school year, where Rylen joined them as a freshman.

Playing with some of the best names to come out of Tucson recently, Treyson and Coben were able to help take the team to the Open Division semifinals in 2019. A tough loss to the Chandler Wolves brought an end to the season, but it set the tone for what Treyson was capable of in his next two years at Salpointe.

Meanwhile for Coben, the loss seemingly concluded is football career, as he was set to attend ASU on an academic scholarship and wanted to focus on his studies. It wasn’t until the following summer going into his sophomore year when he decided to try walking on to the team, eventually snagging a spot.

Treyson, on the other hand, returned as a junior the following year to a turbulent course with the Covid-19 pandemic in full-effect. Since all of Tucson’s high school districts had brought a halt to school athletics, Salpointe was the only school planning to keep athletics active on the field since they have no district regulations. Because of the shutdown, the Lancers were forced to play every game on the road in 2020 in a time where things were touch-and-go by the minute.

The uncertainty didn’t seem to phase Treyson at all, though, as he helped the Lancers once again return to the Open Division playoffs. This time, the Lancers were matched-up against Hamilton, where Treyson’s former coach Litten had moved to. Despite the best effort by the Lancers, the Huskies were too much to overcome, but it showed everyone in Phoenix some of the playmakers on Salpointe’s squad, specifically Treyson.

Treyson and Vanessa after a Salpointe Catholic game. Photo Credit: Toby Bourguet

In 2021, everyone knew the Lancers were the team to watch in 5A, so it was little surprise when they made it to the 5A State Championships in Treyson’s senior year. In an unexpected turn of events, though, Litten had since taken the Head Coaching position at Horizon, and he’d be coaching against his former quarterback yet again, except this time on the Championship stage.

“He’s someone who I really looked up to,” Treyson said about Coach Litten. “He was a really big role model for me. It meant a lot when he’d come watch my middle school games. Him being there on the sidelines, I was working really hard to impress him.”

“So it was one of those moments where I was super proud of Treyson and the whole family, but it also scared me to death because I watched him since he was five years old,” Litten said.

Litten noted there were a lot of emotions going into the game, and he made sure to speak with Treyson at the media event prior to the game to let him know how proud he was.

It took a lot of tough preparation, as Litten knew better than nearly anyone what Treyson was capable of, but there were no hard feelings on either side on game day.

“I’m super proud of what he’s been able to do at Horizon, and we kind of went our own ways, but I have nothing but respect for him and what he’s been able to do there,” Treyson said. “He’s just a great guy, a great coach and a great role model to look up to.”

“They all stayed as a family, and there’s like 40 of them, and in the middle of an interview they all called me over,” Litten said. “It’s a very unique place where you develop and have this friendship and I always think warmly of them. They’re just great people.”

While it was a tough loss for Treyson and his team to swallow, he didn’t let his emotions get the best of him. Playing with his younger cousins on the sidelines after speaking with media, you wouldn’t have known he had just lost the final game of his high school career.

“I’m just trying to teach the younger kids what it means to be a champion,” Treyson said. “Whether we’re winning or losing the game, what it means to be a Lancer.”

He said Coach Rogers fully embraces the idea of who you are as a person is far more important than how good you are as a player, and it’s helped foster an environment for the kids to thrive.

“Our legacy isn’t defined by our wins and losses, but by what we can do for our community and for our school,” Treyson said. “On our bye week, we went to the Boys and Girls Club and we volunteered. We did food drives, and we did a bunch of community service work. I think that speaks more volume than any of the games we won or the state championship game we played in.”

Treyson was originally a verbal commit to the University of Arizona entering his junior season until a change in the coaching staff threw a kink in his plans. With the Wildcats deciding to go a different direction, Treyson was back on the market once again.

It was a grueling process to go through, as the transfer portal and extra year of eligibility granted made things increasingly tough for the entire class of 2022. Relying on his faith to find patience and guidance through the process, he ultimately ended up committing to Western Michigan University in the spring.

“I think it was just who wanted me more,” Treyson said. “Who cared about me, truly, as Treyson Bourguet, the 17-year-old kid at the time instead of Treyson Bourguet the football player.”

With his decision, Treyson also was able to start his own legacy apart from his brothers and really find his own path in life.

“It’s something that Trenton, nor me, can relate to because we’re still only an hour and a half from home,” Coben said.

“I always wanted to be different,” Treyson said. “I took this as another opportunity to shine in my own way.”

Vanessa says Treyson’s decision has also created a whole new set of opportunities for their entire family.

“Now we get to go do something in Michigan because of what he’s doing, and he’s already had at least 20 to 25 family members enjoy a part of the country they’ve never done before.”

Getting the Call

For each of the boys, getting told they were going to get the opportunity to start brought with it it’s own set of emotions.

For Treyson, he found out he would be starting a few days after Trenton had gone in and picked up the win for ASU against no. 21 Washington. When he found out midweek, he decided to reach out to his family and let them know. He said it had been an emotionally taxing period, and the news came at a time when he really needed it.

Treyson had adopted a new role he had never had before as the team’s back-up quarterback who’s role was to help bring positivity and energy to the sidelines. While he enjoyed this part of the journey, seeing Trenton get to go in and pick up the win against UW made him miss getting the opportunity to play.

When his coaches let him know he would be starting that week in the Broncos’ upcoming road game against rival Miami (OH), he was elated by the news.

“I was in class and I had seen I got a message from him,” Coben said. “So I checked in with him and he said, ‘Yeah, you know I’m starting this week?’ And I said, ‘Does [Trenton] know’ and he said he was texting him right now.”

Treyson said he knew it was not going to be an easy win, but he had to have confidence in himself and know he was made for moments like that.

“Trenton talked to me before the game like he always does,” Treyson said. “He really helped just cool my nerves down and understand we’ve been doing this ever since we were born just playing in the backyard with each other. So I just took that mentality that he has out there and we ended up getting a win.”

Toby and Treyson after a Western Michigan game

“I’m super proud of him,” Rogers said of Treyson. “With the transfer portal and everything else that’s going on in College Football right now, it makes it really hard for high school kids to get noticed and get their opportunity. I think we’re finding out, it might not be the school you thought you were going to go to, but all you need is the opportunity.”

For Trenton, the news he would finally be named the starter came a little later than anticipated. Despite leading the team to victory over the Huskies, ASU allowed Jones to return and start the game against Stanford before officially handing over the keys to Trenton for the Colorado game.

When he found out, he decided to keep the decision close to his chest, waiting until just before the game to share the news with his family.

“My parents were already going out there [to Colorado], so I told them probably an hour before the pre-game,” Trenton said. “I didn’t want to tell anybody and I didn’t want to secret to get out, but I made sure I text them and I said ‘It’s time. Let’s go.’ And Treyson had a bye, so he could watch the whole time.”

For Trenton, it was a monumental moment and achievement for him. After years of hard work and remaining positive, he would finally be getting his shot.

Trenton, Toby, Vanessa and Coben before the game against Colorado. Photo Credit: Toby Bourguet

“They told they don’t ever want to hear me complain about not playing because I’m never going to see the field,” Trenton said. “They told me that, and I just trusted in god and knew I needed a shot. I made sure to walk in the building every day like I am the starter, and fast forward four years, it’s all come true.”

Treyson even made sure he got his teammates to tune in and watch the game against Colorado along with him, getting everyone hyped up for his brother’s accomplishments.

“Watching that game, I was just running laps around the dorm celebrating,” Treyson said. “It was a really fun time and a really special moment.”

“He was just super excited, he was watching with some of his teammates and he was sending me videos of them going crazy while watching the game,” Trenton said.

After the game, Trenton said he made sure to run up to the stands to run his parents and grandparents, even though security was trying to wave them away.

Living Out the Fairytale

Since both Trenton and Treyson got the call, it’s been a surreal experience for both the boys and their entire family.

“It doesn’t feel real,” Vanessa said. “All of this, again, much greater and better and grander than I could have ever imagined.”

“It’s almost dreamlike,” Toby said. “I was always very confident in their ability to play at a very high level… To watch them play on Saturdays is unbelievable.”

In a way, it kind of goes back to where things all started for Toby and Vanessa. The two of them met in middle school at Breakers Waterpark growing up in Tucson. The two of them remained familiar with each other in high school, as they were both athletes at rival programs.

Vanessa, who was initially set to go to the University of Arizona, had a last-minute change of plans. On graduation day, she decided to change course when Arizona State offered her more scholarship money, similar to Trenton. Toby, on the other hand, spent his first semester at NAU before transferring to ASU, where their love story officially began.

The two of them reconnected at a party around the holidays back home in Tucson in late 1994, and they fell madly in love the following spring. After dating for a year, Toby asked Vanessa to marry him, but she wanted to finish school first so they waited until they had both graduated before tying the knot.

Photo Credit: Toby Bourguet

“Our relationship really was built there at ASU,” Toby said. “So, for our kids to go full-circle and be back at ASU, it was never in the plans. But now, to watch them suit up, especially with Trenton wearing Jake Plummer’s number… I don’t want to make it more than it is, but it’s very fairytale-like.”

For Vanessa especially, it’s an incredibly special moment to see her sons carry on her family’s legacy at ASU. Not only was she a Sun Devil, but her father was a Sun Devil, too.

“The fact that ASU kind of falls on my plate, and then falls on Trenton’s plate, we are connected in so many ways,” Vanessa said. “My first born was born on my birthday, March 2nd, so to have that kind of connection and bond.”

For years, they’ve been working tirelessly to be ready for when the opportunity presented itself, and their hard work finally paid off.

“It’s definitely the way we were raised, being instilled at such a young age,” Coben said.

“Treyson is living proof,” Rogers said. “He prepares his butt off, he always has, and now he’s getting a chance to go out there and show what he’s capable of.”

“I was just so proud of [Trenton] when he got his opportunity he was able to show what he can do,” Litten said. “It wasn’t a surprise to me… I reached out to him right away.”

For the boys, one of the biggest things they’ve been able to take away from the entire experience is the ability to inspire the next generation, including their two younger brothers.

Photo Credit: Toby Bourguet

“I’m just using this game of football to try to shine my light into this world and be the best I can be every single day,” Treyson said.

For both of the boys, the opportunity to finally take the snap as the starting quarterback was something they’ve both dreamed of for years. Even if it would have just been one of the boys earning a starting position, it would have been a wonderful moment. But for both of them to get the opportunity around the same time, it was more than they ever could have hoped for.

It Takes a Village

The Bourguet family has admitted they wouldn’t be where they are today if it weren’t for their tribe supporting them throughout the years. From their own large extended family, to all of those who provided help getting the kids to and from practice or games.

Some of the many people part of the Bourguet’s support system. Photo credit: Toby Bourguet.

“We always talk about our village,” Vanessa said. “Just having the amount of kids that we have wouldn’t have happened without our village. Knowing that we have the support that we have locally, and they love our kids like they are their own kids, it made it really easy to have a big family.”

Because of the support, when Vanessa and Toby need to travel to catch a road game, it’s been a fairly easy thing to coordinate.

“The support system has always been there, even when we were growing up,” Coben recalled. “It’s just been a blessing.”

It’s also been an incredibly unique experience for them to receive such an outpouring of support from so many rivaling rans. Toby says a number of Wildcat fans have reached out to let him know how many ASU games they’ve watched this season to root for Trenton and Coben.

“That’s another one of the neatest things that’s happened,” Toby said. “Just to know people have opened up their minds a little bit and it’s more than a football rivalry thing. The fact that people can cheer for ASU and for Arizona is kind of a cool thing.”

“I’ve watched more ASU Football in the last four weeks than I probably ever have,” Litten said.

“Tucson is a big support system,” Coben said. “It’s always home, no matter where we’re at. Even being a Sun Devil, we have some Wildcat fans who still cheer us on, which is super cool.”

A number of people have made an effort to start tuning into Western Michigan games, too, after Treyson was named the starter.

For the Bourguets, the amount of love they’ve received in the last few weeks hasn’t gone overlooked.

“There’s very few days where I go out, whether it’s Walmart or the grocery store, and I have people that I haven’t seen in years there up-to-date on everything the kids are doing,” Toby said. “They say, ‘thank you for sharing, keep sharing.’ That’s why I do post so much about the kids.”

With the end of the season right around the corner, Trenton is starting to think about what is next for him. His dream has always been to become a collegiate football coach, and with his extensive IQ and ability to break down the game, those who truly know him have all the confidence in his abilities.

“Trent’s dream is to be a coach, and I think he’s going to be really successful,” Litten said.

Meanwhile for Treyson, he’ll sit out the final game of the season on Friday to preserve his ability to redshirt this year.

Coben, who still hasn’t been able to break into the starting rotation of receivers at ASU, will continue pushing the pace on the practice field in hopes of one day earning a starting spot while continuing his journey towards becoming an engineer.

While the oldest three are off discovering their own sense of identity as young adults and the fourth knocking on the door to adulthood, Toby and Vanessa are excited to get to continue seeing their kids blossom into their own individuals. It’s their greatest hope that their youngest two can take what they’ve learned from their older siblings and apply it to their own life to become the best versions of themselves.

“It really is one of the best things to know as a parent that when your kids branch out and do their things that they’re setting an example that you always hoped and prayed they would set ,” Vanessa said. “To hear from coaches, family, teachers, etc. who all say the same thing consistently, it’s so comforting.”

“They’re really quality human beings,” Toby said. “They live with purpose and they serve Christ. They’re making the world a better place with athletics and certainly outside of athletics, and that’s the biggest accomplishment that Vanessa and I can say we’ve done.”

For Trenton, Coben and Treyson, it’s their intention to leave a lasting impression on their younger siblings when it comes to being a hard worker and remaining positive and focused despite what life may throw at you.

“My work ethic comes from them, and wanting to impress them,” Treyson said about his older brothers inspiring him. He continued, “I hope I’m doing the same thing for my little brothers and little sister, as well.”

Trenton signing a football for a young fan at ASU’s Camp Tontozona. Photo Credit: Toby Bourguet

When Trenton plays in his final collegiate game of his career on Friday against Arizona, it will be a bittersweet ending to his football career, at least as a player. While it will be hard moment to swallow at the end of the game no matter the outcome, the support of so many people in their tribe will help alleviate the heartache of saying goodbye to your first love.

“God’s blessed us in so many ways, and that’s real talk,” Toby said.

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