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Gerstell Academy’s new athletic director Phil Gilotte aims to ‘build relationships'

Pictured (left to right) Former AD Christine Hryzak, Max Friedman, and Gerstell Academy's new athletic director, Phil Gilotte.
Pictured (left to right) Former AD Christine Hryzak, Max Friedman, and Gerstell Academy's new athletic director, Phil Gilotte. (Courtesy Photo)

Phil Gilotte said his new role as Gerstell Academy’s athletic director feels like another day at the office.

Gilotte, 42, previously served as the Falcons’ assistant athletic director under Christine Hryzak for three years prior to taking over for Hryzak on July 1. His experience at Gerstell dates back to 2003, just one year after the school admitted its first class of students. He worked as a physical education teacher there for six years.

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Gilotte moved out of his native Maryland in 2009 but returned to work at Gerstell in 2017. Under Hryzak, he gathered a lot of behind-the-scenes experience, created schedules, and formed working relationships with other athletic directors across the Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association and Interscholastic Athletic Association of Maryland.

Gilotte said it won’t be a difficult transition for him considering his prior experience.

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“If I would have skipped the assistant role, I think it would have been a much tougher transition,” he said. “I feel very confident that I know what I’m doing because of that role I was in before.”

Gerstell’s athletic programs have seen some success in recent years — the Falcons’ boys basketball team captured MIAA B Conference championships in 2018 and 2019. Reece Early, a 2019 Gerstell grad and the 2019 Carroll County Times baseball Player of the Year, helped lead the Falcons to their first MIAA B Conference championship last spring.

The boys lacrosse team won a conference championship in 2018 as well.

Gilotte, who was an assistant coach for the Falcons’ baseball team in 2018 and 2019, said his goal is to continue to grow the athletic department at Gerstell and “continue to build relationships with its student-athletes.”

Gerstell's Reece Early, left, high-fives first base coach Phil Gilotte after reaches base with a single during a baseball game against Friends at Gerstell Academy on Thursday, April 18.
Gerstell's Reece Early, left, high-fives first base coach Phil Gilotte after reaches base with a single during a baseball game against Friends at Gerstell Academy on Thursday, April 18. (Brian Krista / Carroll County Times)

“As the assistant [AD], my job was behind-the-scenes so I didn’t have that face time with the students as much as I’m going to now,” Gilotte said. “Those relationships with the student-athletes and their parents, ultimately that partnership is really, really important.”

That same partnership goes for his coaches as well, he added. The coronavirus pandemic has increased concerns over whether or not sports will resume this fall, and Gilotte is committed to relaying the coaches’ concerns and goals for the upcoming season to ensure the safety of everyone involved.

“As an athletic director, I’m just planning for whenever they tell me we can be on the field, and my coaches are ready to go,” Gillette said. “If they tell me we can’t be on the field until February, we will be ready. If they tell us we can be on the field in September, we will be ready to go. I plan for what I can control … obviously there’s going to be some individual challenges, but my main job is communicating to make sure my coaches know what the protocols are.

“Ultimately, those things are what’s going to keep the kids safe.”

Gilotte has 20 years of coaching experience in a variety of sports outside of baseball, including soccer, volleyball, basketball and softball. He has worked with kids from pre-kindergarten up to the high school level.

“I think my favorite part is the fact that no day is ever the same,” Gillette said. “You see the joy and excitement of when they are participating in athletics or P.E. and at the upper level — the high school level — I like the competitive part of it. At the younger level when I teach classes, I love just teaching them the love of a sport or exercise. There’s a lot of differences and it just depends on what level or age you’re teaching and coaching.”

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