On June 13, Jaleel Gilbert, a recent graduate of Liberty County High School, signed to run track at Troy University. Judging by what his coaches have said about him, Troy has made a good decision in picking such a talented young man.
He holds the school record in the 100 meter dash with a time of 10.82 seconds. He also holds the school record in the 200 meter of 21.39 seconds. He was also voted the most valuable player on the track team. Surprisingly, Jaleel started his high school career playing football. He was a wide receiver and was known to be the fastest on the team. Somehow track became the forefront for him and he took the speed from football and applied it to track.
Both of his coaches had nothing but good things to say about him. “He’s a fast kid; a good athlete. He was my second best jumper, and this is his first year being a jumper for me. He’s grown up, he’s become a young man who does what he is supposed to do: he leads. He matured a whole lot as a freshman. He matured so much that I made him one of the team captains. He really responded well. I wouldn’t have made him a captain if he wasn’t capable and he was,” said Coach McGee.
When asked why he chose Troy, Jaleel said, “I chose Troy because I was looking for a school in Alabama – that’s where I’m really from – and out of all the schools that were interested they gave me the best offer.” Jaleel plans on majoring in either biology or business management. He hopes to find a good job in the medical field after he graduates.
The cafeteria where the signing took place at was full of people. Proud friends, coaches, beaming parents, even men who coached Jaleel when he was a young boy came to support him. It was a truly celebratory event. “We’re glad that he’s leaving”, said Daryl McCulley, another track coach of Jaleel’s, “because he’s signing and he’s moving on. So there’s no really sad part because we have others that are coming in. That’s what we do as coaches. When one man’s down one man’s up. So whoever is next in line we coach them and give them the best of opportunities to be successful as possible so that they can sit at the table and sign.”
The most proud in the room was Jaleel’s mom and dad, Joyce and Steve Gilbert. “He has always been a good student academically and athletically. We’re so proud of him just from the time that he was smaller. He used to be really chubby when he was younger so this right here (pointing to son) I never could have imagined that he would be at this point in his life. I’m speechless right now”, said Joyce Gilbert. Steve Gilbert also had a lot to say about his son: “He’s been doing this for a long time. When he was about four or five years old. I always tell him to handle your business. First, it starts in the classroom then it will go to the football field or track field. And he’s put in the hard work and finally it paid off; he has a scholarship.”