Aug. 2, 2012
MADISON, Wis. -- Wisconsin defensive lineman David Gilbert has always relied on positive role models in his pursuit of success. For him, they have made all the difference.
Now, Gilbert wants to serve as a role model for the next generation. Recently, Gilbert passed on the guidance he has received to local youth at two community events.
Gilbert gave a 30-minute address on leadership to the Wisconsin Association of School Councils Leadership Summit. He followed that engagement with a visit to the Group Health Cooperative Evening Clinic to promote pediatric health.
"I want to give younger kids a positive example," Gilbert said. "If I can be a positive example for one kid and he is better for it, then it's worth it."
In his address to the leadership summit, Gilbert talked about the role models that have shaped him. Chief among those is his mother.
"My mother told me you don't always have to be the loudest, you don't always have to have the best thing to say or the most to say," said Gilbert. "But, if you're good at something and you're consistent with your effort, people will respect that and you will advance in life because of it."
His mother's advice guided his efforts throughout high school that eventually paid dividends -- a spot on the Wisconsin football team. In his time with the Badgers, Gilbert said that his leadership style has been further influenced by the style and work ethic of his teammates.
"I came to Wisconsin because I saw an opportunity to lead," he said. "When I came here, we were 7-6. But the kind of people they were getting to come to the school were leaders.
"Chris Borland, Montee Ball, Travis Frederick -- they all came in with me and they are all guys that love to lead by example."
Gilbert's address was a big hit with the middle school students.
"We were all so impressed with how inspirational his talk was," WASC coordinator Sara James said. "The kids were talking about it all week."
Gilbert continued to do a "great job" at the Group Health Cooperative Evening Clinic according to GHC employee Judy Joyce, who helped coordinate the event.
The opportunity to inspire the underprivileged kids in attendance at the event held a special place in Gilbert's heart.
"I knew a lot of kids in high school that were from underprivileged families," he said. "They just needed one person to be an inspiration in their lives. Whenever you have an opportunity to visit with underprivileged kids it is especially rewarding.
"They have so many talents but are so often overlooked."
It is Gilbert's passion to help youth discover and develop their own passions that has influenced his future plans. Gilbert wants to coach high school football, the level where he "first fell in love with the sport."
"A big part of leadership is not being afraid to pass your success on to others," he said. "Showing it as a great example is one thing, but I take a great pride and a great pleasure in teaching others the skills I am good at."
He plans to achieve his goal with the same mindset he has heading into the upcoming season.
"I'm not competing against my competition," he said. "I'm competing against myself every day to mold my craft to perfection."