Football seems to quickly be replacing baseball as America’s favorite pastime; collegiate and professional stadiums fill up every weekend in support, but the enjoyment starts with high school football. Players get dressed on game days, perform their pregame rituals, and relish the opportunity to play under the lights behind unwavering support from the fans in the stand. The sport offers a way to get involved in school, stay in shape, and even build relationships. However, for Louisville commit Ashton Gillotte, football represents more than that. It was an escape that broke down the barriers of race, brought life-long friendships, and helped him persevere through challenging times.
“Being mixed made interactions odd for me growing up. I never knew which group or who to associate with or hang with and football was a good escape from that. It served as a break from that mentality; where people of all colors, creeds, and nationalities work together regardless of their differences toward a common goal,” Gillotte explained. “Football is how I met some of my closest friends to this day who have been there with me through the mud and don’t think of race as an issue.”
Outside of the sport, football has also helped Gillotte push through challenging times at home. After being born in Ohio, he and his family moved to FL when Ashton was 3 years of age. Then, his parents divorced 3 years into the move to FL. Eventually, Ashton and his mother moved to Boca Raton in sixth grade due to job opportunities. However, his parents’ divorce and other tribulations made life very difficult for young Ashton. “I didn’t have my father in my life for 3 years, at a time where I needed a father figure. It’s been rough in recent years, especially when my mom lost her job as well,” Gillotte recalled. Being able to bond with teammates and take his mind off of situations of adversity aided in Gillotte’s perseverance.
On the field, Gillotte has quickly made a name for himself. This past season for Boca Raton High School, he recorded 82 tackles, 16 sacks, and three forced fumbles. The three-star defensive end has seen his recruitment blow up since this past January, with the help of new athletic director Brandon Walker. However, things changed when the University of Louisville offered a scholarship in early April. It didn’t take long for Gillotte to be sold on the Cardinals, as he committed to Scott Satterfield’s program on May 17th.
Committed 🤩 ⚫️🔴#GoCards @UofLFootball @MarkIveyUofL90 @Coach_Dennison @CoachSattUofL @Backendcoach12 @CoachDNic @coachmac98 @Coach_Hicks51 @pete_nochta13 @UofLRecruiting1 @AjHowardUL @SWiltfong247 @EdOBrien247 @RivalsJohnson @SpartanEdit @BrbobcatsF pic.twitter.com/xAP14s4O26
— Ashton Gillotte (@AshtonGillotte) May 18, 2020
“It was a really welcoming and a get-to-know-you type approach; Coaches (Cort) Dennison and (Mark) Ivey got to know me and my family well,” he explained. “I have a close relationship with Coach Ivey especially. He is an awesome coach and mentor, not just in football but with life and the Word. He’s a down-to-earth, wise man. Sure, he can get wild on game days, but it’s almost inspiring with the passion he displays for his players and this program. Coach Dennison was really chill and didn’t force or pressure me into anything. He was genuinely interested in my personal life.”
Since committing, Gillotte has heard from various programs like Navy, Florida State, Duke, Pittsburgh, and Central Florida. However, he has remained firm in his pledge.
“I just felt natural with the players being brought in, the coaches, the school’s engineering program, and the fans. Also, being close to family helped.” Gillotte is a defensive end with a high motor and plays with passion. His speed and burst allow him to get into the backfield and deliver hard hits. “I like sacking quarterbacks. Coaches say I have a great motor and that I’m very tenacious, and have good reach,” he explained. “I watch a lot of film on players, I lead through actions not commands; I don’t need to talk trash to get into people’s head and I do what the team needs.”
Many times he has gotten knocked down, but every single time, Gillotte has gotten back up. The commitment to Louisville represents years of persevering through challenges, and being able to come out the other side still passionate and humble. “I’m very appreciative of all the fans, supporters, and Louisville as a whole. I’m always working and we look forward to bringing this team a championship,” he said. Pressure causes diamonds to form, and it’s safe to say that Gillotte truly is a diamond-in-the-rough, both on and off the field.