Hopkinton’s Trafton and Rothe, a dynamic duo of Nordic skiers, share athlete of the season honors

  • Hopkinton’s Francie Trafton skis at the N.H. Coaches Series classic race at Plymouth Regional High School on Feb. 12, 2022. Trafton finished third out of 142 skiers, leading Hopkinton to the team title. Trafton won the Division II classic individual championship, leading the Hawks to an undefeated season and a Division II team title. Jeff Sullivan / SullivanEventPhotography.com

  • Hopkinton’s Ava Rothe skis at the N.H. Coaches Series classic race at Plymouth Regional High School on Feb. 12. Rothe finished ninth out of 142 skiers, helping lead Hopkinton to the team title. Rothe also won the skate race at the Division II championships, leading Hopkinton to a D-II team title and an undefeated season. Jeff Sullivan / SullivanEventPhotography.com

  • The Hopkinton girls’ Nordic team poses with the championship plaque after winning the Division II team title and completing a perfect season at Great Glen Trails on March 9. Courtesy of Rob Rothe

Monitor staff
Published: 3/27/2022 9:33:31 PM
Modified: 3/27/2022 9:32:35 PM

Frances Trafton and Ava Rothe are hard to separate. The two high schoolers often sit atop leader boards together, or train in the offseason together, or sit side by side for an interview. Fittingly the pair of Hopkinton Nordic stars are sharing the Concord Monitor’s Girls’ Nordic Athlete of the Season honor.

“To have two people from our team be able to get that award, I think is really cool,” Rothe said.

To anyone who followed D-II Nordic this season the decision won’t be a surprise. Hopkinton girls were untouchable and went undefeated in the regular season. They then put any doubt to bed when they took home the D-II state title in early March.

Trafton, a senior, and Rothe, a junior, both showed out at the championships. Trafton snatched first in the 4K classic race and was second only to Rothe in the 4K skate race. At the Meet of Champions the success continued. Trafton won the classic and placed third in skate, while Rothe took home seventh in classic and eight in skate.

The sharing of the award fits in perfectly with the mindset of Trafton. Despite her individual prowess she always put the team first.

“I think our team is really important to all of us. The fact is that it’s not just about one of us, it’s about our team,” said Trafton.

Rothe backed up her teammate and said that the team’s success is in part due to how well they all get along.

“I think my overall favorite thing about the team, that’s helped us all come to where we are, is how we’re able to all work really hard, but also have a lot of fun at the same time. And I think that’s a really special thing,” Rothe said.

It was hard to get either Rothe or Trafton to give themselves any credit without first mentioning their team and coach. Coach Rob Rothe, who is also Ava’s father, was happy to heap praise on his two star athletes.

“She (Trafton) has definitely been an integral part of the team over the past four years,” said coach Rothe. “She’s very committed to the sport. She’s worked really hard. She trains all summer and basically all year for Nordic.”

Coach Rothe noted that Trafton excelled not just on the race course, but also in her duties as team captain.

“Nordic is such a specialized sport and it has so many moving parts to it. We put a lot of duties and responsibilities upon the team captains like Francie. If I have to be preparing skis somewhere, I’ll have her organize the team, get them doing warm ups, things of that nature. And she’s been just very responsible and very capable of doing those things. She’s definitely a leader and has grown into that leadership role over the years.”

Coach Rothe had equal praise for his daughter. He noted as well that his older daughter, Emma, took home the award two years ago so it was nice to have a little family dynasty going.

“(Ava’s) another one like Francie who trains in the summer and in the fall and spring as well. She’s very serious about it and and works hard for it. To come away with a win at the states. She was really excited to have that happen.”

Discussing the grueling endurance nature of their sport it is clear why Trafton and Rothe have found so much success. They love the grind.

“I just love skiing,” said Trafton. “I think probably my favorite thing is that I don’t have to be competing to enjoy it. I also love just like, going for a ski on my own in the woods, like with my rock skis, just being outside and in the snow. But I also love racing. I love like seeing how fast I can go and that’s my competitive side. But it’s also really fun.”

That isn’t to say that it’s fun all the time. As any athlete will tell you there are moments of disillusionment.

“There are definitely races where I just really want to stop skiing and just go sit in the snowbank for awhile,” said Trafton. “But I think finishing and just making yourself keep going and ski faster, and get over the top of that hill and cross the finish line-”

“It’s a rewarding thing,” Rothe added, finishing her teammate’s sentence. “Like mentally, you’re going to want to drop out of races sometimes. But like Francie said, when you finish it makes you feel better about it.”

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