‘Can I get your autograph?’

Who are the professional stars that inspire GC athletes and why? 

CHRIS COLLIER| SENIOR WRITER| OCT. 9, 2019

The Mount Rushmore of professional athletes inspires young athletes everywhere to climb higher. For Cal Gentry, junior marketing major and infielder for GC baseball, the climb started at birth.

“They named me Calloway after my great grandad, and since Cal Ripken Jr. was my dad’s favorite player, he was just like, ‘Hey, let’s just call him Cal,’” Gentry said.

Cal Ripken Jr. played 21 seasons for the Baltimore Orioles and holds the record for consecutive games played at 2,632. He was inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame during his first year of eligibility in 2007.

Gentry watched Ripken on TV every day growing up, collecting his jerseys, gloves and bats along the way. He witnessed history from his living room when Ripken smashed Lou Gehrig’s record for consecutive games played.

Gentry met Ripken in Tennessee when his dad, a high-school baseball coach at the time, brought him along for a conference. Ripken was the keynote speaker.

Cal Gentry meets his idol, Carl Ripken jr., at a baseball conference with his father

“I went up to him—it was him and his brother Billy—I went up to him, and I just told him, ‘Hey, man, my name’s Cal, [and] I have a dog named Ripken,’” Gentry said.

Ripken’s reaction was priceless.

“I remember him talking to my dad about that, and he was like, ‘Man, that’s awesome—that’s one of the greatest things I’ve ever heard,’” Gentry said.

Gentry plans to enter the MLB Draft in 2020. He hopes to be drafted by the Baltimore Orioles and chase Ripken’s legacy.

Sophia Bonser, junior chemistry major and midfielder for GC soccer, draws inspiration from  Lionel Messi.

Messi has played for Barcelona for the duration of his professional soccer career. He’s won a club-record 34 trophies including ten La Liga titles, four UEFA Champions League titles and six Copas del Rey.

Bonser looks to Messi for how to conduct herself on the pitch.

“He’s [Messi] very mild-mannered on the field if that makes sense— he doesn’t have a super high temper, and so he keeps his cool a lot, and I would say I try to do the same,” Bonser said.

Jordan Thomas, junior exercise science major and guard for GC men’s basketball, grew up watching Kobe Bryant light up defenses with ease. Thomas collected Bryant’s shoes, jerseys and posters as a young athlete.

Kobe Bryant played 20 seasons with the Los Angeles Lakers, winning five NBA championships and an MVP award from 1996 to 2016.

“I’ve always been a Lakers fan because of him, really,” Thomas said.

Bryant scored 81 points on January 22, 2006, scorching the Toronto Raptors under the bright lights of Staples Center in downtown Los Angeles.

“When he had 80, that’s just when I was like, ‘that’s crazy,’” Thomas said. “He had 80. Even though I know Wilt Chamberlain had 100, but that was in like the ‘50s [or] ‘60s. For someone to have 80 points—and I think he had fifty-five in the first half or the second half, that’s just so crazy.”