Gill signs with Lafayette
Bob Ford/TIMES NEWS Northern Lehigh's Matt Gill, center, signs a letter of intent to continue his academic and athletic careers at Lafayette College. With Gill are his parents, Karen and Jack.
It had been an on-going process over the last couple of months, but Thursday afternoon Matt Gill finally was able to leave out a huge sigh of relief.
"Today is definitely a great day," Gill said. "It's a great feeling to know we got through everything okay. As a family, It lifts a lot of weight off our shoulders."
In front of family and friends in the Northern Lehigh High School library, Gill sat with a huge smile on his face as he officially signed a letter of intent to further his education and his football career.
The six-foot, one-inch, 215-pound senior Bulldog linebacker committed to play Division I-AA football in the Patriot League for the Lafayette College Leopards.
"It's not just me going to Lafayette. I'm representing my family the Gill family and also the Northern Lehigh family," Gill said. "That's what we preach here we're a big family. I'm not going there and playing at Lafayette for myself, but it's for Northern Lehigh.
"It's for every kid that doesn't get the opportunity to go and play at Division I for any sport. So, it's definitely not just for myself. It's for everyone else every teammate, and everyone that helped me through anything like practices, schooling, everything."
While Northern Lehigh head coach Joe Tout and his staff gave Gill a chance as a young freshman, Tout stated it all started right at home with his father Jack, mother Lauren and older brother Jack in becoming a four year varsity letter winner for the Bulldogs.
"He comes from a really good football family," Tout said. "They're a great family. I think as a family they made a decision they all felt comfortable with. As a coaching staff, we're proud of Matt. I have said it before and I will say again that he is one of the best players to come out of our program. I think that's saying a lot. It's rare that you have a four-year starter.
"We're excited. We really are. He's playing big time football. I think he's found a place that mixes well great academics and great football. I want to see the education just as much as the athletic success."
Gill also received offers from Lehigh University, Colgate University and Holy Cross while some Division II colleges like Kutztown and Bloomsburg also expressed interest in drawing Gill to their respective schools.
"That's what I think is key with Matt, that he had different offers," Tout said. "He visited different schools predominantly in the Patriot League and I think Lafayette just felt right from the get go. They have been in since the Spring and they let us know that they really wanted the kid.
"So, I'm excited because I think he's going to be a great fit there. I really do. The sidenote to it is that we have a kid who we could all shoot down from our practices Saturday morning to see him play."
After a memorable run last fall winning both the Colonial League and District 11 Class AA championships, it makes it even harder for Gill knowing he will walk on a whole different field than the one he has spent the last 10 years on.
"I always kid around, saying, 'I think besides Coach [Steve] Hluschak, I may have been here the longest out of everyone,'" said Gill, who was ball boy for the Bulldogs from second grade until he had a chance to play himself as a freshman. "It's just great being a part of this family. They treated me well ever since I was a little guy from the days of Coach [Jim] Tkach and all the way up. Coach Tkach has helped me a lot, and so has Coach Tout. They have been calling everyone, not just for me, but for all my teammates.
"It's kind of disappointing to leave Northern Lehigh but at the same time it's awesome that I'm actually going to play a Division I sport.
"Not many people get the chance to do that. Yet alone to play in college at all. So, I'm pretty honored to have that privilege."