It’s not surprising when three-sport student-athletes go on to greener pastures — especially when the student-athlete in question is dedicated at his or her craft.
Minford’s Matthew Gullett is certainly one of those excellent athletes that one could believe would find his own way. The 5-11 soccer, basketball, and baseball standout did just that back in April, when Gullett signed to play college basketball for Rio Grande from the 2016-17 season on forward.
For Gullett, the opportunity to obtain an athletic scholarship from longtime Rio Grande head coach Ken French, former Portsmouth hand and Rio Grande assistant/junior varsity coach Len Collins, and staff is a lifelong dream that’s been fulfilled.
“It was a huge deal for my family and I,” Gullett said. “Ever since I was five years old, I’ve always wanted to play basketball at the next level. I’m extremely thankful for this opportunity, and I can’t thank my coaches over the years, or my teammates and family enough for helping me get to this point. Lastly, God has always been there to help put me in the positions that I need to be in to make this dream a reality. It’s an amazing feeling to go to a program who is used to winning and always has high expectations.”
Based off of overall stats and team success, it is clear that Gullett, too, has the high expectations that are necessary to succeed at the collegiate level.
As a senior, the goalkeeper defended the net successfully for Minford in 2016, recording at least 11 games where the senior allowed just two goals or less — according to the Minford Local Schools and OHSAA websites — en route to obtaining Second-Team All-Southeast District honors.
Gullett then continued his rapid improvement on the hardwood as the senior guard, behind his 14.8 points per contest, led Minford to a better-than-anticipated 14-10 overall record and a Division III District Semifinal appearance — despite losing senior stars Trey Kelley and Brandon Rowe to graduation the year prior — en route to Division III Second-Team All-Southeast District and Special Mention honors.
As good as the senior was in the goal and as a combo guard, Gullett really showed off his immense talent in baseball, where the senior batted a team-high .468 and led the unit in hits, RBI, and stolen bases despite missing four games with a hamstring injury.
The senior’s efforts and leadership at the plate and in the field, along with fellow senior strongholds Jacob McCaleb, Eric Cook, and Ian Tolle, allowed Minford to obtain a No. 1 seed in the Division III, Southeast II District Bracket, where the Falcons defeated Paint Valley and Nelsonville-York to reach the Division III District Finals despite losing eight seniors from a regional semifinal team the year prior. Gullett obtained All-District honorable mention billing for his efforts during the course of the year.
“Knowing how successful I was throughout high school is great,” Gullett said. “I can always remember those days for years to come and I can always use the hard work that I put in while in high school to push me to get better while in college.”
And it’s that various and unique set of coaching styles that Gullett says has allowed him to excel as much as he has.
With Minford soccer head coach Dave Gampp and assistant Jacob Hackworth, it was a one-for-all mentally. With Josh Shoemaker, it was about belief. And with Tim Martin, Brent Daniels, and Aaron Hopper, it was about being mentally and physically prepared for anything that could arise over the course of the game.
“Even though it means a lot to know that over the years, all the work that I’ve done for every sport in the offseason has paid off for me, the opportunity to play basketball at Rio Grande couldn’t be possible without the guidance of my coaches, who always pushed me to be the best player that I could be,” Gullett said. “Having (Dave) Gampp and (Josh) Hackworth was a great experience. They just wanted what was best for every player. (Josh) Shoemaker was always helping me and working with me on all parts of my game. He always believed in me and he never let up on me. I had three different head coaches (Tim Martin, Brent Daniels, Aaron Hopper) for baseball, and they wanted the same thing, which was for us to do the little things and to perform at the highest level that we could every day. The guidance from each of those men paid off.”
So, to sum it all up, Matthew Gullett’s senior year line looks like this: Three sports. Three All-SOC team honors. Three All-District team accolades. And most importantly, three appearances in district play.
But with his newest opportunity set to officially kick off in just a few months, Gullett’s resume is far from finished — thanks to the guidance that the freshman-to-be received while at Minford.
“It’s an awesome feeling that in every sport, we made it to that point,” Gullett said of his time at Minford. “It was our goal to not only get to districts in every sport that we played, but to state. Even though we didn’t get the opportunity to play in a Final Four, making it to districts multiple times a year is a great feeling.”
Reach Kevin Colley at (740) 353-3101 ext. 1930 OR on Twitter @ColleyKevin7