“I was undersized and I was actually bullied and ostracized by my entire school,” offensive lineman Garrett Gilkey said. “Going into my freshman year, I had a heart operation — very simple, but it prevented me from playing in any sports and doing anything. So, I excelled academically. With that, some of the guys — especially on the football team and the upper cliques — distanced [themselves] from me because I wasn’t able to do the running in the summer and the workouts. . . . I was constantly bullied, constantly picked on. It was a very hard year. Really, I like to tell people that I was just the little redheaded, gingery, skinny-looking [kid]. I was pear-shaped. I had these wide hips and this skinny-looking upper body. I was just a prime target for many of the cruel kids.”
That is what Garrett Gilkey told Howard Blazer of Sports Xchange about his early years in high school. Gilkey is now a 6-6, 318 offensive tackle at the NFL Scouting Combine vying for a opportunity to make it in the NFL.
He transferred to Aurora Christian and played under former NFL player Don Beebe. Gilkey credits Beebe with helping him find his true passion for football and helped him gain the size to get attention from small colleges like Beebe’s alma mater Chadron State College, where Gilkey ultimately played.
“I’m starting an anti-bullying campaign,” Gilkey said. “I have such a great opportunity to be proactive and be encouraging and be a strong force within the community of the west suburbs of Chicago. I plan on being proactive with schools and junior highs and YMCAs, and talking about bullying. I think I have a great position, being my size, and standing up and talking about my experience being bullied, being ostracized and being made fun of. People see me now and think, ‘How could this person ever be bullied?’ I have a great voice and great platform to share those experiences and share my faith, as well.”
That small school label might keep him as a late round draft but hopefully he succeeds and can use that platform to share his story.