By: Aaron Slutkin
Often throughout the football season, I would stand at my favorite spot on the forty-yard line, look up at the score and ask myself, “How did we get here?” How did Gilman football, the premier program in Baltimore, end up undercut by St. Frances? How did Gilman Football go from second-to-none in the state to second-to-last in the MIAA? How did Gilman Football, which spent the last twenty years bullying its opponents into submission, find itself repeatedly embarrassed by Archbishop Spalding, Mount St. Joe, Calvert Hall, and—gasp—McDonogh? How in heaven’s name did we get here?
I’ve been mentally writing this article since September 23rd, when, knowing we had much to prove, we determinately drove to Malvern Prep and were summarily bageled. Optimistic but still weary of the impending doom ahead, would I use my column inches to instill optimism? Harangue those who left? Laud those who stayed? Through it all—through summer practices, through Dunbar, through McDonogh—I’ve come to the conclusion that we, as a school, as a team, have to look beyond the record and celebrate the season.
First, look to the crowds. Time and time again this year, students came out in full force to support the football team at home. The student support at the Saturday game against Loyola, or even against St. Frances, was unbelievable and undying. Of course, support for the football team has always been strong, but the fact that students from all social groups united behind a two-win team goes beyond typical school spirit. It speaks to the fact that—even in defeat—the football team was embraced by the students.
Furthermore, the team was not just accepted by Gilman, but it has become a symbiotic arm of the school. Before the school year started, I wrote that this Gilman football team was, “in mind, body, and spirit, bluer and grayer.” My experience since September has validated this. With the sideline dominated by teacher-coaches, football talk is talked in the lunchroom, and philosophy and math are talked on the field. The heart of this team beats not in the Finney Center or on Brown Field, but it beats proudly in the classrooms and common rooms of Carey Hall.
Finally, having played on four Gilman football teams, I believe the unity of this year’s team was, and continues to be, incomparable to years past. Maybe it’s the hardship, maybe it’s the fact that I’m a senior, but I believe that now, more than ever, this team was driven by a sense of purpose that surpassed “Win the league and beat McDonogh.” This sense of purpose was undying and unimaginable, for no hugs were tighter than the ones after Mount St. Joe; no smiles were wider than the ones after Loyola; and no “HOUNDS ON THREE!” was louder than the one after McDonogh.
And so, in light of all of this, my classmates, my teachers, and most importantly, my teammates: I beg of you to look beyond the record. No, it ain’t 10-1, but this was the season of a lifetime.