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Pro football dream jeopardized by charges

News editor

When Tabor College football player Torrey Gill put up an online fundraising site in 2015 to get money to play in an all-star bowl in front of NFL scouts, he was clear about what he wanted.

“I have been playing football for 15 years and have always dreamed of playing professionally,” he wrote. “This might be my only chance to turn that dream into a reality.”

Now a second-year graduate assistant coach for the Bluejays, Gill got another chance at playing professionally, albeit on a much smaller stage, when the Wichita Force, a professional indoor football team, announced Nov. 21 that they had signed Gill to their practice/tryout/training camp for the upcoming season.

Gill’s arrest Nov. 28 by Hillsboro police on suspicion of possession of marijuana and drug paraphernalia may have put an end to that dream for now.

“I did not know that,” Force general manager Stuart Schake said Tuesday when asked about the charges and their implications. “What you’ve provided me is the first I’ve heard of it. I have not heard from him, so if he would reach out to me I would gladly take his stance on the situation.”

Schake was clear Gill’s charges presented a potential problem.

“This is not part of our culture,” he said. “I will meet with my coaching staff and ownership group, and I will be very aggressive in addressing it. I’m going to have to find out if there are any league ramifications.”

Schake said that Gill’s signing did not make him officially part of the team; the camp is an opportunity for signees to win a spot on the permanent roster.

“I will have to decide if we’re going to bring him in,” he said. “We have to be vigilant in making sure that we put quality people out there to promote our product.”

Many players like Gill get involved with indoor professional football for a shot at making the big leagues, Schake said.

“My goal is to try to put them in a better situation to move to that next level, but you’ve got to do things right,” he said. “There’s a certain amount of expectation you have to be held accountable to.”

His decision will take multiple factors into account, he said. He would like to let the legal process take its course, allowing for the possibility that Gill could be exonerated. However, he also has to worry about the team and public perception.

“Unfortunately, in athletics, public opinion is judge, jury, and executioner sometimes,” he said.

Schake expressed disappointment for both Gill and Tabor.

“What hurts me is that there are people at an institution involved, and that’s not what the people of Hillsboro want for their town,” he said. “It hurts me that a kid put himself in that situation.”

Schake said he would begin to address the situation immediately.

“What I really want to do is get to the bottom of what’s going on and make a good decisions based on the facts to move forward,” he said. “We hope it’s not true what’s happened, but the reality is we have to live with what’s presented to us.”

Last modified Dec. 7, 2017

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