Prepared for Life: Alex Gildon Overcomes at all Levels
Written by Blake Froistad
One of the most overlooked positions on the football field is cornerback. Out there on an island by yourself, if you do your job, nobody calls your name and it tends to go unnoticed by the fans. If you don't get it done, you're in for a long day and all eyes are on you. Always playing a step behind the offense who knows the play, you need foresight to see plays evolve before they happen. You need quickness to stay in a receivers hip pocket, toughness to take on guys twice your size, and resiliency to keep coming back to the line because you truly cannot afford to take a play off.
Class of 2011 graduate Alex Gildon knows the triumphs and tribulations of being a cornerback all too well. An all-state athlete in both football and track, and an all-conference basketball player, Alex made an impact during his 4 years at Valor, and truly made the most of his time. His diverse athleticism, and stand out performance on the football field at the cornerback position, caught the attention of college coaches, and he earned a scholarship to play at Hastings College in Nebraska. But just like every other college football recruit must learn, the transition from high school football to college is a difficult one to say the least.
The chasm between high school and college athletics can be a tough one to navigate, so much so that a lot of athletes fall in and never climb out to see the playing field again. Between moving to a new place, having to start at the bottom of the totem pole again, and being at another level of physicality, a lot of college football careers end before they even get started. Alex found himself in that same transition, going from being a 4 year starter and 2 time state champion in high school, to a true freshman again. Talking with Alex about that transition, "I remember getting there and seeing how big these dude's were and how the upperclassman had already adapted, it was tough for me initially." Staying true to his cornerback resiliency, combined with the hard work and football knowledge instilled in him at Valor, Alex stuck it out. "I remember those early morning off-season workouts, it was a grind." But it's not just Alex's cornerback foresight that got him through, the Lord had foresight too, and Alex met some core guys on the team that were also believers, that spurred each other on to get through those tough days of adapting to college football.
By the time his freshman season rolled around, Alex was named a starter, "I remember calling my family and telling them your son is gonna start as a true freshman, that meant the world to me." But his hard work and success didn't get put on the shelf the day he was named a starter. Alex proved that the hype was all real, and went on to start all 4 years at Hastings. By the end of his Hastings football career, Alex was named all-conference 3 times, led the team in turnovers his freshman and sophomore year, and was the only player on the team to be named all-conference his senior year. Just like he had done at Valor, he left a legacy on the field at Hastings.
But again, Alex found himself in another transition, this one bigger than the last: retiring from sports. When there's no more screaming fans every Saturday in the fall, no more rush of having the ball in your hands, and no more brotherhood of being on a team, you're out on an island again having to be resilient. You find out what kind of man is really inside, did you do it for your own glory, or is there a selfless man in there who is ready for life beyond the gridiron? Alex hit that transition in stride, and credits lessons learned from his high school coaches, "It wasn't just about winning and losing, they were preparing us for life." Alex has worked his way up to be a successful salesman, a loving husband, and as of recently, a dad to his so AJ (Alex Junior).
Proverbs 19:21 states "Many are the plans in a man's heart, but it is the Lord's purpose that prevails." To all our alumni that have gone to the next level of athletics, let Alex's story be a lesson of humility and hard work. Keep showing up, keep pressing through, and let the Lord direct your steps and move in the hearts of others to use you as a vessel of hope.