12 Essential Questions with
12 ESSENTIAL QUESTIONS FOR . . . Tom Gilmore
Presented by Bill Cambria (Class of 1969)
It has only been eight months since Tom Gilmore was selected as the new head football coach at Holy
Cross, and the 2004 season is about to get underway. In that short period, Coach Gilmore has had
to hire a staff, hit the recruiting trail, plan and conduct spring practice, get started on recruiting for
next year, prepare for pre-season camp, and get the team ready for the opening game against
Duquesne. I sent these twelve questions to Coach Gilmore shortly after his selection, and he asked
for some time to address other immediate concerns. When I had not received answers by the time
camp began in August, I figured it was not meant to be. However, Coach Gilmore kept his word and,
with the assistance and cooperation of our CROSSPORTS Moderator, I am pleased to present his
answers to this set of 12 Essential Questions.
Bill Cambria '69
1. Congratulations on your selection as Holy Cross football coach. Why did you have interest in
applying for this position, and what is your overall view right now of the football program at Holy Cross?
Holy Cross’ reputation speaks for itself. I have always known it to be an excellent academic
institution with a great football tradition and the best stadium in the Patriot League. I had visited
this campus many times over the years and I was always impressed with everything that the school
has to offer. Even though the program has suffered some difficult times recently, I believe that the
potential for success is still here. We will have to put in some work to realize this potential
but the infrastructure is in place to get back to the top.
2. Over the past few years, even as Holy Cross has struggled to improve, other Patriot League
programs have improved more quickly. What more can be done to bring Holy Cross football to the top
of the Patriot League?
We have to begin this process by outworking other people in all areas. A great work ethic
can solve a lot of problems, but we also have to improve on other fronts as well. The players have
worked hard in the off-season workouts and will be better prepared physically to meet the challenges
of the game. I have hired an outstanding coaching staff and they have worked long hours to devise
schemes to put our players in the best positions to succeed on every play. This is a great start, but
we have to bring in more and better talent in the incoming classes to keep progressing in the right
3. What is your vision of the future of Holy Cross football, and what needs to be done to make
that vision a reality?
I believe that Holy Cross will climb back to the top of the Patriot League and compete in the
national playoffs. Once there, I believe that we can consistently produce nationally ranked teams.
To make that a reality, we have increased the scope of our recruiting efforts and started new
fund-raising initiatives to help us improve our resources for recruiting, financial aid, equipment
4. As part of the interview process, did you ask for any commitments from the Holy Cross
administration for the football program, and were you given any?
The most important factor that I was looking for was a sincere commitment to the football
program. If the administration was fully supportive of football at Holy Cross, I knew that we could
accomplish much. That support was very evident throughout the interviewing process. It was clear
that the administration had already discussed ways to improve the situation. A significant proposal
that has now been launched is the Crusader Gridiron Club, which permits alumni to make restricted
contributions to the football program in addition to their support of the Holy Cross Fund.
5. What is your view of the football facilities (field, locker rooms, training facilities) at Holy
Cross, and what improvements (if any) do you believe are needed?
We have the best game facility in our league and one the best in the country at the I-AA level.
We also have an outstanding weight room and a good practice facility. We need to make
improvements to the locker rooms and offices but these facilities are more than adequate for now.
Some other projects have been planned that will address some areas of greater need in the
department. I don’t believe that facility issues are the biggest concern for football at this time.
6. You had a late start on the 2004 recruiting season. As a group, what is your view of the
recruiting class you were able to bring to Holy Cross? How can Holy Cross do a better job competing
with other Patriot League teams in recruiting?
Considering the circumstances, we were pleased with the results. We did not get the quantity
that we would have liked but we were able to get some good quality. Several of the skill players in
this class have the potential to make an impact during their first year. The biggest factor that will
help us with future classes is spring recruiting. We need to identify top prospects earlier so that we
can develop a longer and more productive relationship with them. This will allow us to learn what is
important to each prospect and expose them to the advantages that we can offer them. We began this
process for the recruiting class of 2005 this winter by purchasing several national scouting services
and mailing letters to high school coaches nationwide. We then visited high schools in 21 states in
person during the May recruiting period. Our efforts have provided us with an impressive list of top
recruits from around the country.
7. How will the 2004 Holy Cross football team differ from those of recent seasons? Will there
be different offensive and defensive schemes?
You can expect high effort and enthusiasm throughout the games. We will use multiple
schemes on offense, defense and special teams and we will teach the players how to make the
appropriate adjustments to the opponents’ schemes. We will utilize a more sophisticated approach
to the game but we have intelligent players that can learn the system and make the right checks. We
want our team to start each play with the confidence that we are in a position to succeed. Obviously,
we still have to execute the call to make each play work in our favor.
8. You have been described as a very intense and hardworking person. Is this a fair description,
and how does that relate to your relationship with your players?
I think that is an accurate description. I believe that the coaches need to set the example in
those areas and I have tried to impress upon our players the importance of those qualities. Most
players will respect that approach but it can be a tough at times with the coaches constantly pushing
the players to be their best. In the end, the players realize that we have to take that approach to
achieve our goals.
9. What are your preferences regarding future scheduling of out-of-conference games for
Scheduling football games is usually done years in advance. We will play our league games
and a few Ivies each year but I would like to add meaningful games in any open spots in future
schedules. Eastern I-AA football is excellent and I would like to investigate rekindling some regional
rivalries if we can match some open dates.
10. Now that you have achieved, for the first time, a head coaching position, how would you
describe your future career objectives?
This is where I wanted to be in my career. I have a deep respect for the education that a
young man can receive at Holy Cross, while developing his athletic potential to the fullest. As a
coach, I want to succeed on the field but it can’t be done at the expense of our players’ future. It is
equally important to me to see our players win championships and to see them go on to successful
careers in the field of their choice. Holy Cross is one of a select few institutions that can provide the
best of both worlds.
11. What do you believe you and the Holy Cross administration can do to increase support for
Holy Cross football from the student body, alumni and greater Worcester community?
We need to get those groups back in the stands at Fitton Field. Obviously, winning more
games will increase interest in the program and attract bigger crowds to the games. We also have
plans to improve the game day atmosphere at the stadium by promoting the games locally, organizing
alumni events in conjunction with home games, offering activities for younger children and bringing
in outside food vendors to offer more variety. In addition, we have to reach out to the student body
and the community by getting involved in other activities outside of football like community service
projects. We need to reconnect our alumni and community with the football program by opening
communication channels and keeping them better informed about the team.
12. Is there anything else you would like to say to Holy Cross supporters, particularly those who
enjoy the CROSSPORTS web site?
This is an exciting time for Holy Cross Football. We are doing everything possible to return
this program to the championship level that the alumni and fans have come to expect. As we start a
new era, I hope that everyone will renew their support for the program.
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