For West Ranch baseball player Trey Topping, there’s not much more that he enjoys doing other than playing baseball, school and spending time with his family. Growing up as the older sibling to twin brothers, Liam and Miles, age 12, Trey has embraced the role of big brother serving as the ultimate example of what a role model should encompass.
Over the years, Trey has developed a strong relationship with Liam, especially. In 2010, he and the “Topping Clan,” as Trey referred to his family, learned that Liam had been diagnosed with autism.
The news didn’t change Trey and Liam’s relationship in the least.
“When he was 3, he wasn’t talking yet and mom took him to a doctor and found out that he had autism,” Trey said. “I love my life. I’m really thankful for my parents and my grandmother, Nana, and it comes with its challenges, but it’s OK. He’s a really happy kid and if you ask anyone who has spent time with him or been around him, they would say he’s a really happy guy.”
They share the same taste in music, evidenced at West Ranch baseball games before Trey is due up to bat.
“We love Taylor Swift,” Trey said. “It’s actually my walk-up song because Liam sings along to it whenever I come up to bat, so that’s kind of for him. I think this year it will be, ‘I Knew You Were Trouble.’ We also like Bruce Springsteen. We have a little speaker in my room that he jumps on the bed and asks me to play ‘Shake It Off’ next or ‘We Take Care of Our Own,’ so that’s kind of something that we share.”
In 2011, with the help of their parents and grandmother, Trey and his brothers decided to raise awareness for autism by creating the Topping Brothers Invitational Golf Tournament.
Entering its ninth year, the annual Topping Brothers Invitational’s main goal is supporting Autism Speaks, the leading 501c3 non profit advocating for research and treatment for those diagnosed with autism, but has plans to expand the foundation by providing scholarships for families that cannot afford therapies.
The event is held at The Oaks Club in Valencia on Nov. 18 and features a round of golf, breakfast and prizes. Since its inception in 2011, the Topping Brothers Invitational has raised over $200,000.
Trey is coming off his first season playing varsity for a Wildcats team that is ended the year with a second-place Foothill League finish and a CIF-Southern Section Division 1 first-round playoff win against Foothill High School in his sophomore year.
Whether Trey has a good or bad day out on the baseball field, he can always count on Liam to be his goofy, prankster self, greeting his big brother with open arms.
“I could be 0-for-8 in a double-header and he doesn’t care, he still wants tickles when I get home,” Trey said. “It puts things in perspective because sometimes I’ll come home from a game and I’ll be like, ‘That was a horrible game, I played so bad,’ but he’s at home totally happy to see me.”
Spending some time at catcher, first and third base, Trey finished the season with a .262 batting average, eight runs scored and two RBIs on 11 hits in 42 at-bats, but admits that his heart is set on playing catcher.
“I catch and I play third and first base,” Trey said. “I love catching. Catching is really my passion. I’ve been doing it the longest, since I was 8. My travel coach kind of lined all the guys up behind the dish and had them throw down to second. He liked me and stuck me back there, and I wound up loving it.”
Over the years, Trey and Liam have shared many fond memories, but their month-long road trip across the country to Cooperstown, New York, when Trey was 12 is the most memorable in Trey’s eyes. The family stopped at various baseball fields and stadiums along the way, creating new memories that the “Topping Clan” will always cherish.
“Just sitting in the car with him, it kind of forced him to interact with us, and he just really loved that road trip,” Trey said. “He’s actually going to do it again this weekend when Miles goes, so he’s going to Cooperstown. He’s really looking forward to that. If you asked him, he could tell you every single hotel he’s stopping at, where it is and exactly what he’s doing. I just reflect on that time as really positive.”
The Toppings are just like any regular family. Trey urges people to treat those with autism just like he does his brother.
“Don’t look at people with autism as different than you because they’re really not,” Trey said. “They all have personalities. Like, Liam is goofy, he is kind of a prankster and he’s just a person like me and you and everybody else. Just try and treat them regularly, I don’t like to say ‘normal’ because I think he is normal. He’s Liam.”