Twenty former Gilman football players sat down with this year's team — players and coaches alike — to swap stories and get to know each other over a delicious barbecue meal after the team's Friday pregame practice. Head Varsity Coach Scott Van Zile kicked off the program by highlighting the 123-year legacy of Gilman football, drawing connections between Greyhounds across the generations, and giving thanks to the loyal alumni whose support makes the program so special. Justin Redd '01 then took the mic and shared a message of preparedness and ownership. He challenged each young man to accept his role on the team and to perform it to the best of his abilities. Tom Booker '79 followed Justin and spoke to the long-standing Gilman practice of pursuing excellence in both academic and athletic activities. He gave examples of his team rallying around one another, propping up and cheering for the least-experienced teammates, and the collective pride they took in watching a peer's confidence blossom through his own hard work and determination. After soaking in the wisdom from the guest speakers, the boys mingled at their tables with alumni ranging in graduating classes from 1957 through 2014.
The next day, on Saturday, September 9, 18 members of the 1973 Varsity football team and their spouses and partners reunited on campus to celebrate the 50th anniversary of their Maryland Scholastic Association "B" Conference championship. The group, which has representation from Classes of 1974-1976, celebrated with lunch in the Legg Reading Room and soaked up the memories inspired by a medley of photos and articles documenting the team's success. Jeannie Emala, wife of co-captain David Emala '74, spoke first and shared their collective appreciation for the camaraderie of the group, particularly on this leg of their journey. Co-captain Steve DeVeas '74 took the stage and recounted with enormous pleasure and pride the team's final 19-play drive of the championship game that sealed the win over Archbishop Curley. Coach Alex Sotir followed with his own recollections of that memorable march, sharing several keen coaching insights from the sidelines of that legendary drive. After posing for a group photo, the team moved out to the bleachers of Sotir Stadium to take in the action on Brown Field. The Greyhounds duked it out with the visitors from the Lawrenceville School (New Jersey) coached by Gilman's own Napoleon "Poe" Sykes '02. Sadly, lightning warnings abbreviated the game with less than a minute to play in the first half. The special halftime ceremony was moved indoors, but the enthusiasm never wavered as Ned Emala '14, Gilman's Assistant Athletic Director and Varsity football assistant coach, shared a summary of the season with a large crowd that culminated in hearty applause for the 1973 team.
The football festivities were not yet over for Gilman alumni. On Sunday, September 10, more than 30 alumni and their friends and family members gathered for a pregame party at Checkerspot Brewery to celebrate the season opener for the hometown Baltimore Ravens. Alumni from the classes of 1960 through 2009 and their guests enjoyed breakfast and lunch sandwiches, a wide and varied selection of craft beer, and plenty of good conversation and Gilman stories. The event was followed by a sound Ravens victory, which certainly helped contribute to a successful outing.
Overall, it was a great weekend for fans and friends of Gilman football — and the Ravens, too!