Featured Alumnus: Christon Gill ’11
When Christon Gill ’11 joined Avon Old Farms School for a postgraduate year, he quickly felt the embrace of the Avon brotherhood. Coming from Bridgeport Central High School as a star football Quarterback, he was prepared for a year that would be different than anything he had experienced before.
“At Bridgeport, I was a star player and a top college recruit, so there was a lot of pressure and focus on me and what I was doing,” he shared. “At Avon, there was actually a shift away from my performance on the field, because everyone was doing well and everyone was going to college—it gave me a chance to focus on other areas of growth, including my character, manners, and leadership.”
Christon shared that when he visited campus as a prospective student, he met with Jim Detora and was told that he couldn’t come in as a football player and leave in January to move on to college … If he was going to come to Avon, he would have to stay for the year, and play all three seasons.
“I played football, basketball, and track,” Christon said with a smile. “I even was named Most Outstanding Athlete at the end of the year, which was such a highlight of my time here.”
Off the field, Christon focused on setting a good example for the potential Avonians from Birdgeport who he hoped would follow in his footsteps: Taisun Phommachanh ’19, Tyler Phommachanh ’21, and Josh Tracey ’21. He knew that being a gentleman on and off the field would be the key to that success, and relied on the culture at Avon to help him step into a role as a leader on campus as an older student, even though he was new to the school. He attended his first hockey game, gained valuable time management skills, worked hard at his chores in the Refectory, and settled into life in Mrs. Riddle’s Village.
In the classroom, Christon adjusted to being one of less than 10 students in class (down from the 30 to 40 students he was used to back in Bridgeport) and earned grades that would gain him college admittance.
“The plan was to go to Penn State, but the whole Sandusky scandal was happening, and it wasn’t the right move for me,” he shared. “Instead, when the time came I chose to attend Western Carolina University where I double-majored in sociology and business management.”
At Western Carolina, Christon continued his football career and was a two-time all-American. In a Connecticut Post article from 2015, he was described as a ‘6-foot, 225 pounds, productive defender in the Football Championship Subdivision, recording 111 tackles and three sacks. He had 10 stops and forced a fumble in a 48-14 loss at Alabama.’
Post-college, Christon had hoped for an NFL career, but also knew that he wanted to coach. In 2015, he established the Christon Gill Foundation and launched Christon Gill Football Camp which provides the local youth of Bridgeport and surrounding areas with a free football camp and training indoors.
In 2018, he took a position as the director of student athlete development and assistant athletic director at the Asheville School, a co-ed private school with a rigorous academic experience focused on a traditional core curriculum that challenges students and gives them the foundation to become better thinkers and communicators. As a close-knit community set on a campus of 300 pastoral acres in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Western North Carolina, the scene probably was slightly reminiscent of Christon’s time at Avon.
In 2020, Christon had plans to begin his dream of coaching at each school where he plates, starting at Bridgeport Central High. He was excited for his first year as a head football coach where he would begin to have a direct impact on his community when the COVID-19 pandemic stepped in. The football season was cancelled, and while Bridgeport planned on playing non-contact seven-on-seven ball, it wasn’t the beginning Christon envisioned. Then, he got a call that changed his plans.
“As many of you know, I had accepted the position of Head Football Coach at Bridgeport Central High School,” he shared on his social media accounts. “While I was ready to step into my first season as head coach, another opportunity arose that is the best possible outcome for me and my son. I’m looking forward to going back to the place that helped form me into the man I am today!”
That call was from Head of School Jim Detora, and that opportunity was with Avon Old Farms School.
“It’s so great to be back at the place where I learned so much—I learned more here in one year than I did in four in public school,” he said. “What these kids are dreaming about, I dreamed and I did. Now I’m looking forward to helping them do it all, too.”
Christon is living in Jennings Dormitory with his three-year-old son, Jazoni, and supervising Avonians along with colleague Mickoy Nichol ’14, who was a freshman while Christon was at Avon. In addition to assisting with the dormitory and providing a much-needed extra hand in enforcing social distancing and meal supervision, Chrsiton is excited to be helping Avon athletes of all kinds chase their dreams.