By Derek Harryman, staff writer
A discouraging moment when he was nine years old left John Reese Gilmer with lemons.
Wednesday, the Central High School Red Raider baseball player put the finishing touches on his life’s lemonade.
Gilmer, a pitcher and first baseman for the Raiders, signed a baseball scholarship with Tennessee Temple Wednesday at CHS, a result of determination and hard work set in motion after he didn’t make the cut for the Little League all-star team when he was nine.
“Every day that summer dad would throw three-or-four gallon buckets of baseballs to me – he never told me no [when I asked]. We just kept on practicing and I think that is where I got my work ethic,” explained Gilmer. “I never wanted that hurt again, I don’t want failure in my life, I like to succeed every single day.”
Gilmer said he knew Temple was the school he wanted to go to the first time he stepped on campus.
“It felt like home. It is a great Christian environment and it is close to home,” said Gilmer. “I loved [Temple] coach [Greg] Bartley and I knew it was the right place when I stepped on campus.”
He said he plans on majoring in education and minoring in either pastoral studies or youth ministry.
Bartley said Gilmer is exactly the type of student-athlete he looks for at Temple.
“John contacted me and we started a conversation about how being in a Christian environment was big for him. That on top of being a good player is the kind of kid we are looking for,” said Bartley. “His character was first and foremost, he can obviously play, he can pitch for us and maybe play first and swing the bat.”
Raider head coach Brent Whitlock echoed Bartley’s comments, saying that Temple is the perfect fit for Gilmer.
“This is a perfect fit, coach Bartley’s first question was he wanted to know about John Reese as a person and as a Christian and that is a unique recruiting question starter for this day and time but it is a great fit for him both on and off the field,” said Whitlock.
Gilmer isn’t quiet ready to start thinking about playing at Temple, he said he expects big things from his senior season as a Red Raider.
“I expect us to win district and I feel like I am going to have a great year. I have been putting in a lot of work this off season,” said Gilmer. “I expect to have a great year but I expect the team to have an even better one.” …
Read more in next week’s (March 5) print edition of the Manchester Times.