Is This Mr. Gillin’s Last Year Coaching?

Mr. Gillin’s resignation of his coaching position.


Courtesy of Sutton Athletics

Coach Allen and Coach Gillin with Senior Will Edwards

Gillian McDonald, Staff Writer

After 144 seasons of coaching, 23 years dedicated to indoor track, 24 to cross country, and 25 to outdoor track and field, Mr. Gillin, a beloved and passionate coach, has decided to retire this year. 

In his first year of high school, Mr. Gillin stated he wanted to try all the sports out. By the time he was a sophomore, he believed he was struggling with symptoms of ADHD, which caused him to have his ups and downs with school. There his love for track began.

He discovered that he was pretty good at running long distances. Soon afterward, the possibility of college fell onto his lap; colleges were taking notice of his talent. Mr. Gillin states, “My junior year, I improved quite a bit, and you know…it just snowballed from there. It’s really in my blood, and it’s something very personal to me.” Thanks to his college athletic success, Mr. Gillin is a member of the UMass Athletics Hall of Fame

In the fall of 1998, starting with just a good-sized group of about twenty, Mr. Gillin began Sutton High School’s first Outdoor Track and Field team. Around the early 2000s, Mr. Gillin learned about the Central Mass Suburban League, including indoor track and field. From there, he asked Mr. Henderson if he would be able to coach the team, and ever since then, he has been the coach.

Mr. Gillin noted, “It has been a lot, and it has been very time-consuming at the same time, it’s been very rewarding; I don’t regret it at all.” 

When asked, “what led you to become a coach, why did you enjoy it?” Mr. Gillin recapped how his love for running began. He began to discuss the influence of several good coaches during his high school experience and an exceptionally great coach for a whole three seasons of cross country, indoor, and outdoor track. 

“When I started coaching here, I just felt like okay, this is just in me, and it’s just very passionate,” stated Mr. Gillin. “I try to put a lot of emotion into it and do the best job I could for you know whoever, whether it was cross country, indoors, outdoors, girls, boys, it didn’t matter.”

Further, into our discussion, Mr. Gillin mentioned that he felt like it was a “perfect” opportunity per se. “I felt like here’s the opportunity, and I work in a school system, and that’s what you do, you go to school, then you get out for practice.”

COVID-19 has hit everyone differently after about three years of dealing with the constant changes in school routines. I asked Mr. Gillin if he felt COVID was a factor in his decision to retire. 

“I don’t think so,” was Mr. Gillin’s initial response. Later he goes on to say it certainly has been impactful on everyone. However, he feels very fortunate for his situation because so many other people have had it worse. 

In closing, Mr. Gillin takes the wonderful memories created over 25 years with him. “It’s not a particular memory; it’s just the whole thing. It’s been fun.” 

Mr. Gillin ended his thought with, “It’s just something that fell into place however it happened, and that long line of ‘oh my god I can run that turned into a competitiveness that would take me places I never thought I would be.” 

Mr. Gillin has impacted so many students, both through coaching and as a counselor. He discussed keeping busy with his wife and pugs in his free time. Mr. Gillin plans to continue to be the bright and happy energy and face, regardless of the masks everyone needs around Sutton High School. His coaching career will be forever remembered and cherished throughout the history of Sutton High School’s indoor and outdoor track and field, as well as cross country.