Today is Friday, October 20, 2017

Walking in your father's footsteps

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Gallatin Legacy Class. PHOTOS BY ZACH WOMBLE
Ben and Jay Ingrum.
Darius and Walter Bass.
Bailey and Brents Silcox.
John Austin and John Birdwell.
Matthew and David Burton.
Ander and Haynes Sloan.

Tradition runs deep for the green and gold and you can tell it never graduated when you look in the stands any given Friday night at Calvin Short Field.

Earn the "G", they say. What exactly does that mean? Earn the "G".

It means that every snap of every play you go full speed, pedal to the metal and always play for your brothers. Earning the "G" is a privilege, not a right. Many men have walked through the halls of Gallatin high school and many of those same men poured out their blood, sweat and tears on the same practice field and same game field that is used today.

For seven current GHS players, they are forever tied to the last two great Green Wave football teams.

Matthew Burton, Ander Sloan, Bailey Silcox, Ben Ingrum, John Austin Birdwell, Trace Kelley and Darius Bass all play different roles on the current GHS roster, but the legacy they are chasing is all the same; be better than your dad.

For the Bailey Silcox, his legacy is Randal Silcox and Brents Silcox. Both members of the 1992 state championship team, the two brothers share in their passion for Green Wave football. You can find Randall on the sideline of every game, where he coaches the offensive line and you can find brother Brents in the stands or on the fence cheering on his boys.

"It's a feeling of Pride that only a few can understand," Brents told the Gallatin News. "My uncle Steve Silcox played on this field, my brother and I played on this field. The names associated with those teams are synonymous with the success of the Gallatin Green Wave. So, it is special feeling that no other person can imagine."

Brents Silcox, Bailey's dad says he wants his boys to learn the everything they can while playing for the Green Wave football program.

"I want him (Bailey) to learn what it takes to be a champion," Silcox said. "Anyone can be a winner, it takes a special staff and the right group of young men who buy into a philosophy or hard work, dedication, accountability and a team first attitude. That is what gets you the results you strive for."

"You always have people wondering if you will live up to dad's reputation," Bailey added. "Will he be as good as his dad. It's historic playing here, fun to see if you were as good or better than your dad was."

Birdwell is also a player who's dad coaches on the team. His father, John Birdwell, is a linebacker coach and says it's a joy to coach his son, but admits it can be tough to separate coach mode from dad mode.

"It's a good thing and it's a bad thing," he said. "It's good because I get to be out here with him every day and it's bad because I get to be out here with him every day. There is a balance you have to find and sometimes that is not always easy."

Birdwell continued on what it's like seeing his son play on the same field he did.

"It's a special feeling to see him put on that GHS jersey," he added. "I was very fortunate to be a part of two state championship games in the three seasons I played. I wish the town supported them like they supported us back in the day. Used to people would ask you what time are you getting to the game on Friday night and now it just seems like they don't do that anymore."

Ben Ingrum is a current sophomore on this year's team, his dad, Jay Ingrum is part of the quarterback club at Gallatin where he played all four years while in high school.

"I want Ben to learn worth ethic, team work, determination, how to compete, how to win and lose with dignity and sportsmanship, and how the sum can sometimes be greater than the parts," Ingrum said. "If he learns these things, then he will be a winner regardless of the outcome of any game."

There is one constant when you talk to any one of the members of the legacy class, and that is the one thing that has been instilled in their brains from the jump; always, always play for your brothers beside you, because once football is done, it's done and you can never get it back.

"It's an honor just to try and live up to the legacy they left," Ben Ingrum said. "I think it's an honor to be a part of a team with a legacy like this and strive to do better than they did. I feel like it's just an honor to try and play for them."

All the players admitted they do feel some pressure to try and live up to their dad's legacy, but none of the guys let that legacy affect them on Friday nights.

"This is an historic program with a lot of great players that have come before us," Ander Sloan, son of Haynes Sloan, said. "The only pressure we have on Friday nights is knowing that so many people are watching us. We don't think about our dad's winning state or playing in the state championship game. We just want to perform well on the field for our fans."

For his dad, Haynes, he says all he wants from his son is to give Gallatin everything he has.

"I just want him to take pride in his town and to always do his best, only he knows if he gave 100 percent," Sloan said. "I'm just extremely proud to see my son in the green and gold. We were both team leaders and captains. I'm also proud to say that both Ander and I punted in high school."

While Sloan may not feel pressure to live up to his dad's legacy, there are a few players who admit it will always be in the back of their minds.

"Yes, there is pressure to live up to his legacy," Matthew Burton, son of David Burton, said. "Every time I get on the field and look over to see him, I just know he is always there to push me to follow in his footsteps. It kind of surprises me to see him support me. First, he was on the field and now he gets to watch me play. That is pretty cool."

The Green Wave have started the 2017 season on the right foot and only time will tell if this team is good enough to get back to the state championship game, but no matter when this season ends, all the boys agreed on one thing.

"First, our goal is to make it and win state," they said. "None of us are star athletes that are going Division I, and I don't think our dads expect that out of us. Our dads just want us to go out there and play as hard as we can for our brothers."

After a big win, you will find the Green Wave football team celebrating at Buffalo Wild Wings.

"I think it's really cool to have all the legacy jerseys hang up in restaurants all across town," Bass said. "It's just a privilege to play here and it's a privilege that my whole family will see me play here."

Special thanks to Jay Ingram, Haynes Sloan, Lee Kelley, Brents Silcox, John Birdwell, David Burton, and Walter Bass for their participation in this piece.



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