For the past nine years, Shawn “Git” Gillette has been a substitute teacher as well as a football coach at McNick. With Spanish teacher Tracey Canisalez and Theology teachers John Norman and Sam Roflow currently teaching online, Gillette supervises the classrooms during their classes as well as subs for a variety of classes when needed. While respected by both faculty and students, many don’t know much about him. In a Milestone interview on November 11, Gillette shared some information so that everyone can “git” to know him better.
Gillette went to Steubenville Catholic Central High School, where he was involved in a variety of activities. “I played football for four years, I wrestled for three [years], I helped with the baseball team there, [and] did the book for the basketball team. I was [also] student council president my senior year, so I was heavily involved in the school,” Gillette said.
After high school, Gillette attended The Ohio State University. “I majored in… general social studies. It was basically a pathway to be a history teacher; however, when I got there, they didn’t inform me [that] they’re one of two or three schools in Ohio that don’t license you as an undergrad, so I never went to get my masters,” Gillette said.
Gillette considers football his passion, which inspired him to become a coach. “When I started playing [football], I fell in love with it. My grandfather was ‘big football,’ [and] back in Steubenville, football was always a big thing…When I was in high school, we played in a 10,000 seat stadium, and I got to see it packed [while playing]. My coach had a really big influence on me, and it was clear that I wanted to [coach], so much so that when I was a freshman in college, I was coaching football. I’ve been coaching football since I was eighteen, so this will be my fourteenth year coaching.”
Nine of his fourteen years coaching have been spent at McNick. “I was finishing college, and I was coaching at Bishop Watterson High School. Coach [Mike] Orlando, my last year at college, had just been named the head coach down [at McNick]. Coach Orlando is actually from the same home town [as I am]. He was actually a coach there when I was a freshman and a sophomore. His dad was my position coach throughout high school. Once he got the head coaching job down here, I knew that at Watterson there was no room for growth there, and I felt that I would have more room to grow as a coach here and so I reached out to Coach Orlando and he said that there was an opening. We met and everything worked out. I started here as a linebacker coach, and four years into it, the defensive coordinator stepped aside…and Coach Orlando offered me that job.”
In addition to football, Gillette also works with the basketball team. “I’ve been on the basketball staff for the past nine years… I do a lot of the ‘behind the scenes’ stuff. I’m the guy that sets up the huddle, making sure we have people to film games. I do the stats for each game and I upload those… I’m at every practice.”
Most of Gillette’s life outside McNick consists of sports. “I enjoy watching Notre Dame and the Steelers play. A lot of my stuff outside [McNick] is involved with watching my sports teams…There’s a Steelers bar and grille down in Clifton I like to go to hang out to watch Steelers games.”
While the sports program is his main priority, Gillette also loves his role as a substitute teacher at McNick, especially interacting with the students. “I try to keep up on other things that are going on, different athletics [for example]. I haven’t been to any [plays], but I’ve been able to talk to theatre kids about doing theatre and getting to see [the students] do different clubs. The community is great here. I’ve subbed at a couple other places, and it’s way different here to the point where I said that I liked it here so much that I’m only going to sub here. I’m not going to waste my time going anywhere else…It felt like home [at McNick].”
Many students refer to Gillette as “Git,” which is a nickname he has had his whole life. “That’s just a family thing… I don’t know how it developed or anything like that… my dad still gets called [Git], my uncle still gets called that. It doesn’t bother me at all [when students call me ‘Git’]. I don’t care what I get called: Mr. Gillette, Mr. Git, just Git. It doesn’t matter.”
Gillette also has an amicable relationship with the faculty. “I have a relationship with the coaches because I see them every day. The faculty is a little different because I don’t interact with them a ton unless we have a retreat, but the relationship that I do have with them [consists of] very friendly conversations. There are certain teachers that have requested me because they feel their students get more work done, and they feel they can communicate with me better…If they need something from me, I make sure whatever that is gets done, no matter who it is.”
Gillette’s Catholic identity plays a prominent role in his life, both in and outside of McNick. “I’m involved with my parish at St. Rose. I’m there at noon mass, and I will do whatever they need, whether that’s distributing [the Eucharist] or doing a reading. Catholic faith means a lot to me… I’ve developed a really good relationship with several priests from the Athenaeum [of Ohio] as well through St. Rose. [McNick] being a Catholic School is important.”
While Gillette may not return to earn his master’s degree, he still has long term goals. “The next step I’m looking at is becoming a head coach somewhere. I don’t know where that will be. I don’t know what that will look like. Once that would happen, [I] would figure out what that school would need from me, whether they need me to [become a full-time teacher] or be an in-house sub, or have a different role within the school.”
Gillette is a valued member of the McNick community, and he loves this school just as much. “I love the school. I love being here… It seems that everybody says it, but [McNick] really is a unique community, and it’s great to be a part of.”