By Barron Demons
Gilbert is currently in his 29th year as the stat keeper for the Pirate basketball teams and witnessed the Pirate men capture a national championship in 1993.
Before he became stat keeper, Gilbert served in the United States Marine Corps (USMC) for 10 years, at eight duties stations, one being Vietnam.
After leaving the USMC, Gilbert attended the University of Southern Mississippi (USM), where he received his Masters while also tutoring football players. He left USM and attended Vanderbilt University, where he began keeping stats for the women Commodores. In 1989, Gilbert came to Pensacola and became the stat keeper for the Pirate basketball teams.
He has maintained stat books that date back more than 50 years.
“I went through every one and built a stat book from 1949 to 2001, even including the leading scorers all the way up to that time frame, and my plan is to now update that from 2001 to present.”
It didn’t take long for Gilbert to realize his journey as a stat keeper at Pensacola State College (PSC), then Pensacola Junior College (PJC), would be special.
“When I came here, I asked the coach if they needed a stat keeper and he said, ‘yeah if you want to,’ and it just so happened my first year, we ended up winning the state championship.”
In Gilbert’s third year at PJC, the 1992-93 Pirate men basketball team made their way to Hutchinson, Kansas, to play for a national championship.
Gilbert, accompanied by others, was able to drive to Kansas in a school issued van.
“We had a school photographer at the time, and he went along with us, so it was me, him [photographer] and eight cheerleaders. We piled into one of the vans and drove to Hutchinson, Kansas.”
The season of 1992-93, Gilbert saw his best moments at PJC, when the Pirate men won the national championship.
“We’ve won two state championships, and at least half a dozen conference championships, but winning that national championship was special.”
Gilbert noticed the 1992-93 team was different.
This team could compete with anyone.
“You could tell this was a good team. We were talking and I said, ‘You guys think you’re so good; if you win the state championship, you can shave my head.’”
The Pirates went on to win the state championship and hadn’t forgot the promise Gilbert made to the team.
“We went back to the hotel, and they were waiting for me with the clippers.”
Gilbert made a bet for the state championship, but he also made a bet to the team if they won the national championship.
“That same day when we made the first bet, we kept talking and I said, ‘Ok look, if you win the national championship, you can shave my beard.’”
The Pirates went on to beat Butler Community College 79-74 to win the NJCAA Division I National Championship.
“And they shaved my beard.”
Despite having his head and beard shaved 25 years ago, Gilbert has cherished every moment of his career at PSC.
“I just love being around students and being around sports. This is my 29th year keeping stats, and it’s not an official position, but it’s a great experience, and I just love doing it.”
Gilbert has no future plans of leaving PSC as of now, and will continue keeping stats for the basketball team.
“As long as I can keep doing it, I’ll keep doing it.”