PLAYER PROFILE: HERRINGTON-GILMORE CHALLENGING HIMSELF ON AND OFF THE COURT
LOS ANGELES — Tuesday at 8:15 a.m. was the only time Ben Herrington-Gilmore (Stillwater, Minn.) could spare to interview.
Awaiting the senior tennis captain was class, work as a senior fellow at Admissions, an hour break, tennis practice, another hour break, work for the ASOC as General Assembly co-chair, homework, and then class for the rest of the night.
"I'm usually more free on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays."
"…But not really," he laughs. "Just more free."
The confidence of a second semester senior comes out.
"My schedule is a little crazy, but I can handle it," he said. "I don't feel overwhelmed because I really enjoy what I'm doing—it doesn't feel like a chore."
With so many extracurricular activities, the Minnesota native finds refuge on the tennis court.
"Tennis keeps me sane," the No. 3 doubles for Oxy said. "I love the guys on the team. We've been through a lot together."
Tennis coach Brian Newhall is Gilmore's third coach in four years. Gilmore has been there for the long-haul during the team's past few disappointing seasons. But in his final season in Eagle Rock, the Tigers seem to have turned things around, beating No. 24 Brandeis earlier in February.
"We really struggled as a program since I've been here. Before, we would go out and compete like we were a joke," he said. "But we're not going out like that anymore. Every match we're going out and getting some wins."
"There's just a different mindset this year, and I couldn't ask for a better season to leave Occidental with."
Last Sunday's comeback win against Chapman confirmed what his teammates already knew: you can count on him when it counts most.
He dropped the first set, but fought back and evened the match at one set a piece, before eventually pulling out a tight 6-3 third set.
"It was one of the gutsiest third set performances that I have ever seen," Newhall said. "A storybook ending with our senior leader clinching the victory. The team could not have been happier for Ben."
Aside from that game, Newhall cites Gilmore's leadership to be the catalyst for Oxy's recent ascension.
"Ben has been one of the best team captains that I have had in my 25 years coaching at Oxy," Newhall said. "He is the ultimate Occidental scholar-athlete. He is a great student, fantastic person, and a warrior who is both calm and intense on the court."
His leadership may have shined through athletics, but perhaps developed through other avenues.
As co-chair of the Associated Students of Occidental College's General Assembly, Gilmore extensively communicates with administration and faculty, and appropriately directs students' concerns. He also served on the Programming Board during his first three years on campus.
Gilmore studied abroad in Brazil in the spring of his junior year, and participated on a 10 day winter break "reconciliation trip" to Ireland his sophomore year, sponsored by the Office of Religious and Spiritual Life. Gilmore also participated in Oxy's Summer Research Program where he worked with his close mentor, Professor Keith Naylor.
The Diplomacy and World Affairs major and Religious Studies minor continues to dabble in multiple areas he's passionate about—an exemplar of the versatility of Occidental student-athletes.
"At Oxy, I've been able to try different things," he said. "I wasn't involved in student government in high school, but here I had the chance to get into it. Going to a small school has encouraged me to follow all of my interests, not just one or two."
With less than three weeks until graduation, Gilmore isn't one of those seniors who reluctantly answer the question: "So what are you going to do next?"
He is looking forward to getting his Ph.D. in Religious Studies. For the time being, Gilmore is applying for legal assistant positions in New York and San Francisco and will take classes during the nights and weekends.
Hopefully his Tuesdays will be a little less busy after Oxy—but something tells me they won't be.