“Gilly was a great player and he’s obviously one of all of our best friends,” says Southern Miss first baseman Tim Lynch.
“Gilly’s had the best attitude of anybody about that unfortunate day,” says Southern Miss head baseball coach Scott Berry.
“Sometimes you don’t feel like getting that extra lift in,” says Lynch. “You don’t maybe feel like taking a couple of extra ground balls, and it’s like man he would kill to be out there with us.”
“Nothing is guaranteed in this world and in this life and you live and work hard each day to get better,” says Berry.
What if everything you worked for your whole life was gone in the blink of an eye?
If what you saw always came in pairs?
If the game you loved became a spectator sport?
“Coming out here and seeing everybody working so hard for the season and knowing you can’t be a part of it on the field – it’s frustrating,” says Southern Miss infielder Michael Gilbert.
On Oct. 2, a routine conditioning drill involving some teammates and a telephone pole suddenly turned into everyone’s worst nightmare.
Around the 40-yard line closest to the Duff Athletic Center at M.M. Roberts Stadium, is where Gilbert’s life changed forever.
“First thing I remember is waking up in the hospital in Jackson, and we were just doing a training exercise on the football field,” says Gilbert. “Like I said I don’t really remember much, but it was definitely a tough time.”
That day the senior infielder incurred a severe head injury, leaving him with excruciating headaches and double vision.
“It’s like my eyes are crossed all the time,” says Gilbert. “That’s what it feels like when I’m looking. I see two different things, so obviously if you’ve ever played baseball you know vision is the most important thing you can have.”
For Gilbert the last four months have been a daily struggle, but things are getting better.
The headaches have subsided and his facial nerves are starting to fire up again, meaning his future on the diamond is solely dependent on his eyes.
“Do you see yourself ever playing collegiate baseball again?,” WHLT’s Jeff Haeger asked Gilbert.
“I do,” says Gilbert. “There’s only one person that knows that and that’s God, and I trust that everyday since it happened. I grew up in a Christian home. Like I said he’s the forefront of my life, I know that like I said he’s got a greater plan I might not be able to see it right now and it might not ever involve baseball again. I don’t know.”
Even without No. 1 in uniform for the foreseeable future, Gilbert is not to be a forgotten member of the Southern Miss baseball team.
Come first pitch against Murray State at 4 p.m. on Friday, he will be in the dugout with his teammates – watching, cheering, inspiring.
“I wish everyone just the best and like I said I’ll be right there at the top step wanting to play, of course,” says Gilbert. “But I’ll be right there with them all and rooting them on, and hopefully they can all do well and the team do well.”
To see the official press release from The University of Southern Mississippi regarding Gilbert’s initial injury, click here: http://www.whlt.com/story/26693090/usms-michael-gilbert-in-critical-stable-condition