Soccer coach Tim Gilbert wants his players to move on to become college — and maybe even professional — athletes one day, but more importantly, he wants them to go on to be great human beings.
Since he was young, he’s helped coach his brother, then later his son and hosts of other kids over the years. He admits that he was not the best role model to his younger brother while he was in high school and college, and eventually lost his brother.
“Why I am working this hard for these kids is that I don’t want them doing in front of their little brothers what I did; I don’t want them to go down that same path,” says Gilbert, who played soccer and basketball as a child, later moving on to be a musician. “I hope I am making a slight difference, and one day I will look at what they did and maybe I had a little something to do with it in some small way.”
In 2012, Gilbert introduced his son Joseph, who is named after his late brother, to the sport of soccer. His son kept it up, so in 2015, Gilbert started a team in the Lake Country area that helped families get into the sport more affordably than some other teams and also recruited students who may not have fit into other teams.
“Some teams can cost thousands of dollars,” admits Gilbert.
The next year, he took some of the students to a game of the Georgia Revolution — or the Revs — a soccer club based in McDonough that hosts elementary kids to adults on teams.
Eventually in 2018, his team became an affiliate of the Revs and in 2021, he started coaching with the team.
One of the topics that kept coming up was getting high school students placed on college teams with resources in place, having the students get interested in college sports and making connections to colleges early on in their youth.
Now, Gilbert is the Revs’ college recruiting coordinator while also serving as a coach for a couple of Revs teams, as well as still working in Lake Country.
Over the years, he’s had students research colleges that they would be interested in attending for academics and soccer, made connections with college soccer coaches and set up clinics, showcase events and coach visits with his players, as well as scheduled college visits.
“They can see their campus, sometimes go to lunch and play with the team and the coach can see if they’re coachable,” says Gilbert, adding that only a percentage of many college soccer teams are local, with another percentage coming from out of state and another portion coming from overseas. “This is a serious thing. You’ve got to be the best of the best out there or form a relationship with the coaches early on.”
Recently, Revs students have signed on to play at Thomas University in Thomasville, Andrew College in Cuthbert, Georgia Military College in Milledgeville and Young Harris College.
“I switched to the Revs (in the 2021-2022 season) because I thought it would be a better career decision,” says Kasey Newman, who graduated from Locust Grove High School in 2023 and now plays for Andrew College while studying agribusiness. “I had an idea that I wanted to play college soccer but no idea that I was late in the process.”
Both he and Revs teammate Markus Porter admit playing college soccer is more intense but they plan to stick with it during their time in college and are grateful to the Revs for helping advance their careers. They also plan to participate in Revs’ summer training sessions and also play on the adult teams.
“I like the fitness level – it tests you as an athlete physically and mentally, and it’s like a community with friends,” explains Porter, who graduated from Union Grove High School in 2023 and now plays at Thomas University while studying exercise science.
Porter, like many of the Revs players, earned scholarships and grants to play on the post-secondary teams.
“I walk them through the money part and try to help them make good decisions. I don’t want them having that devastating debt,” says Gilbert, who attended college on a small soccer scholarship himself. “It can be debilitating to these kids.”
Next year, students, including Gilbert’s son, are expected to sign at colleges like Toccoa Falls, Thomas University, Andrew College and Young Harris College, among others.
“I want to show them character, integrity and respect – they are going to go on to be fathers, teachers, preachers, politicians,” explains Gilbert. “They’re not troublemakers, but they will make mistakes, but even if they do, they own it and make adjustments to improve. You have to show you have character, not that you are a character.”
By Michelle Floyd