Many of you who have followed me over the last few months may have noticed that I have not been able to bring myself to write any blogs. Much of it has to do with how I feel about the current state of the world – I really felt that there were no words to properly express the levels of negativity that have dominated current affairs lately.
But my recent travels to the USA have inspired me. This weekend brought me back to my roots and where I was brought up – Montclair, New Jersey. Anyone who knows me knows that I ‘lived and breathed’ the game of lacrosse, and my love for the game peaked in my high school days where I was incredibly fortunate to play for Montclair High School – a lacrosse dynasty. Montclair gifted me lifelong friendships with guys who I continue to respect a great deal to this day; these are the men who built the dynasty of Montclair Lacrosse.
The man at the centre of it all, the legendary mind underpinning Montclair’s progression, was the great Gil Gibbs who sadly died over 30 years ago, and this weekend he was inducted into the New Jersey Interscholastic Athletic Association Hall of Fame – well overdue and much deserved. When I say this man was a legend, I mean it. He changed the landscape of lacrosse in New Jersey. From 1969 – 1978 he managed 144 wins and only 10 loses, including a state record 42 game winning streak and eight State Championships. No other New Jersey High School has come close to his incredible achievements.
I say in the title that Gil Gibbs ‘lives on’ because when I arrived in New Jersey and was reunited with my dear friends and teammates, I could see his spirit in every one of them. The influence that Gil Gibbs had on all of our lives has been powerful and enduring, the respect and love felt for Gil by everyone in that room was tangible, and he lives on in each and every one of us.
This man was not only a lacrosse legend; he was a true leader, a man to follow. He instilled values that have stuck with us for a lifetime, gave us a sense of being and helped us understand each and every day what it was to win and be number one. As he would have said – not many people can say that. It was lovely to see Mrs Gibbs, Gil Junior and his daughter Gwen, seeing everyone really took me back and made me very proud. To quote Coach Gibbs: “I can go on and on and on, but I won’t”. I am truly blessed to have had someone of his stature in my life, and it really can’t be denied that Gil Gibbs lives on.