Doing It For Dad
Sophomore Gilbert Dubiel Still Driven After Father's Death, Season-Ending Injury
March 20, 2018
Sophomore Gilbert Dubiel looks like an athlete. He’s 6-foot-3, broad-shouldered and big. It’s no surprise Dubiel is a promising two-sport athlete at Taft. His physical presence and athleticism make him a natural on the football field and the basketball court. However, it is Dubiel’s ability to respond to adversity–gut-wrenching, soul crushing adversity–that might be his greatest quality.
It was late in July of 2017 when adversity came calling. Dubiel had just wrapped up summer football camp and was looking forward to a week off before the start of regular season training camp. He was enjoying summer in Chicago and spending time with friends like most students do in the summer. Dubiel didn’t know his life was about to change forever.
“When I found out, I was sleeping over at my friend Chris’s house. I woke up to my mother calling my phone telling me to get home as soon as possible. When I asked what was wrong she just told me to come home,” said Dubiel.
“My aunts, along with my mother’s close friends were all there with long faces. Right away I knew what happened.”
Dubiel’s father had suffered a heart attack and died.
“I just went up into my bedroom and sat there and cried,” said Dubiel. “I feel different since he’s gone, like something is missing.”
In the weeks that followed, Dubiel tried to re-establish a sense of normal in his life. Football helped with that. He returned to the team and began training camp performing well, even earning reps with varsity. For Dubiel, getting back on the football field was a huge help dealing with his grief.
“Football helped because our team is like family. I knew my dad would want me to play football, and playing would make feel like I was making him proud. The guys on the team were really supportive.”
Returning to the field also reminded Dubiel of his father. Dubiel’s father had always come to games to watch his son play.
“Now, at games it feels different, but I know he’s still up there watching me,” said Dubiel.
While football was helping Dubiel cope and deal with his father’s death, adversity was balling up its fist again, preparing to deal Dubiel another crippling blow.
Early in the season during a sophomore game against Lincoln Park, Dubiel was blocking a defensive player when someone fell on the back of his left leg tearing the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) in his knee. The injury would end Dubiel’s season, challenge his mental toughness, require surgery and a grueling 10-month rehabilitation.
“When I tore my ACL I thought I’d be done with sports overall. It was defeating. After I found out I tore it, I was at the doctor’s office tearing up because I was thinking about how much Dad loved watching me play football.”
Dubiel didn’t stay down in the dumps for long. He had ACL reconstructive surgery at the end of November and hopes to be back to 100 percent by the start of next season. The road to recovery is long and grueling, but Dubiel decided he needed to return to sports and make sure his dad could see him play again.
“Thinking about him makes me want to better and stronger. I want him to see me shine on the field. I talk to him in my thoughts sometimes,” said Dubiel.
Dubiel is currently nearly midway through physical therapy and rehabilitation. Dubiel hopes to return to game action for the Eagles’ 2018 opener against Saint Patrick.