Athlete Worth Watching: Aaron Gestole
Apr 29, 2015 10:40AM ● Published by Cate Reynolds
Queen Anne’s High School // Football, Lacrosse
Like many of his peers, Aaron Gestole (last name rhymes with goalie) likes to “hang out with my friends, play video games, you know, do the stuff a lot of teenage boys like to do.” Unlike some of his buddies, though, Aaron’s leisure time is limited during the school year with his dedication to athletic pursuits at Queen Anne’s High School.
In the fall, the senior—whose 5-foot-11, 225-pound frame mimics the stature of his hometown’s (Sudlersville) most famous athlete and baseball Hall of Fame member Jimmie Foxx—is a two-way football lineman for the Lions.
On offense, as a tackle, Aaron opened holes for running backs, such as Brendan Cavanaugh and Cordell Rogers. On defense, he plugged those same gaps—also as a right tackle—playing a few spots away from Tommy Jones, the Lions’ only 2014 Small School All-State selection (Honorable Mention).
“This year he started at both offensive and defensive tackle, which is pretty amazing since he has only been playing organized football for three years,” says Queen Anne’s football coach Donald Graef. “I think that speaks highly of Aaron’s work ethic, his ability to learn the game of football through lots of film study, and his relentless ability to want to be the best he can be.”
In Queen Anne’s signature win of the season, a 13-9 triumph over archrival Kent Island in the Chesapeake Cup, Aaron took great pride in his ability to foil the Buccaneers’ ground game. “I stood my gap,” Aaron says. “With Tommy on the other side, they tried to run the ball on my side, but they couldn’t move me off the line.”
The victory snapped a three-game losing streak to Kent Island and was all the much sweeter, he says, because the game was on the Bucs’ home turf. “It’s the biggest game of the year,” Aaron adds. “People are everywhere. It’s like a Division III college game.”
Meanwhile, at least part of the thrill of winning was because Aaron and his fellow linemen had to give Cavanaugh, subbing for injured quarterback Bradley Harmon, enough time to fire a 56-yard pass from the wildcat formation to EJ Emory for the winning score in the prep version of the “War on the Shore,” a nickname usually associated with the men’s lacrosse showdown between Washington College and Salisbury University.
Unfortunately for Aaron and the Lions, after earning the top seed in the Class 2A playoffs with the win over Kent Island, they were unceremoniously ousted in the first-round of the playoffs by Easton, 21-14, after soundly beating the same Warriors, 35-7, during the regular season.
That loss accentuated for Aaron what he felt was a bit of a down year, despite giving it his all for a team that compiled an 8-3 record last fall. “It wasn’t one of my best seasons,” Aaron admits. “I didn’t produce as much as I thought I should have. But I did as much as I could for the team.”
Any time the subject of football comes up these days, mentioning concussions isn’t far behind.
Aaron says his parents, Rico and Trina, were confident with the manner which coach Queen Anne’s coach Don Graef and his staff treat the subject by teaching new tackling techniques. “My parents know I was in the right hands,” he says. “Before the season, they were teaching us how to do rugby-style tackling, by leading with your shoulder instead of your helmet.”
Aaron knows about hitting in lacrosse, considering he’s a defenseman who often finds himself in a position to deliver a blow. He says that he has also learned to lead with his shoulder in that sport as well. As a long-stick whose role is to patrol the crease, the physical nature of the sport can hardly be avoided.
Aaron compares the congestion and physicality of football line play to mixing it up in front of the crease in lacrosse. “They’re very similar,” he says. “You have to learn to get around people, and a lot of the footwork is the same.”
The four-year varsity lacrosse performer, who likes to practice in the off-season with senior midfielder Zachary Farnell or just playing “wall ball,” is slated to play the sport next spring for defending Division II national champion Limestone College in South Carolina.
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