By BRAD KEITH
STEPHENVILLE (September 29, 2015) — These days, Josh Gillespie is seeing the world upside down.
But only for fractions of a second at a time.
Gillespie took off his figurative red shirt and donned a white road jersey last Saturday, taking over as long snapper when Tarleton State traveled to Midwestern State.
“It was pretty awesome,” the 2015 Stephenville High School graduate said of his first collegiate experience. “I played a lot of football at Stephenville, but at Tarleton it’s a whole different story, a whole different level. I’m just glad I can contribute to the team and the program.”
Gillespie, of course, isn’t your typical Tarleton football player. He’s one of nine on the roster playing in his hometown and the son of a state champion high school head coach turned University of Tulsa assistant.
For those hiding under a rock the last decade, Josh is the son of past Stephenville head coach Joseph Gillespie, a 1989 SHS graduate who returned as an assistant coach in 1995, was promoted to head coach in 2008, won a state championship in 2012 and left to coach linebackers at Tulsa following last season.
Thanks to a bye on the Tulsa schedule, Joseph Gillespie was able to see Josh and Tarleton Saturday.
“He just told me he was proud of me, that I went out there and took care of business and did what I was coached to do,” Josh said of his post game talk with his father. “It’s different not playing for him because he’s really the only head coach I’ve ever known until this year. I feel like there is a little pressure lifted off me without him right there, but I loved playing for him.”
And Josh loves playing for Tarleton State, where his grandfather, Joseph’s father Joe Gillespie, was once athletic director and still works in kinesiology.
“I’m loving Tarleton and learning more about it every day,” said Josh, just more than a month into his first semester on campus. “It’s a lot different than the rest of the community. It’s like it’s own town within the middle of Stephenville. I grew up here, lived here my whole life, and there are a lot of places at Tarleton I’ve never been.”
And he appreciates the qualities of the Stephenville program – and coaches like his dad – that enabled him to get there.
“The hard work ethic that is instilled in the Stephenville program is a big reason I think so many guys go on to play in college and have success,” he said. “That and Stephenville has great coaches. The kids are coached up to become the best they can be.”
And to perform their role effectively, whether it’s long snapping or playing 50 downs a game linebacker.
“Josh has found a niche where he can be successful in helping our football program, and he also isn’t just a deep snapper out there,” said Tarleton head coach Cary Fowler. “He was a good high school linebacker, he can make tackles in coverage when he has to.”
Gillespie is humbled by the chance to contribute so quickly.
“You get used to playing a bunch in high school and it’s a whole different story here,” he said. “You have to fight for everything you get and find ways to help the team.”
Even if it means viewing things upside down.