By VINCE PELUSO
Lakeside’s Shawn Gilbert has been playing baseball his entire life, something he expected to take him to college.
That is, until Gilbert exploded during the 2012 football season.
The Dragons senior was a force on defense, intercepting a remarkable 10 passes on his way to becoming the 2012 Star Beacon Ashtabula County Defensive Back of the Year.
Now, Gilbert will have the opportunity to play both baseball and football next year as he heads off to Hiram College.
“I’m really excited,” he said. “I’ve been playing baseball my entire life and always wanted to play in college. I figured since they were interested I figured I’d try to play both. I know it’s going to be hard but I believe I can do it.”
Playing free safety and wide receiver for the Dragons this past season, Gilbert said the interceptions weren’t anything he was planning to happen, it was just him doing all he could to help Lakeside win games.
“I played free safety and felt like I was going to have a big year,” he said. “I did all I could to help us win. It just came down to me reading the quarterback’s eyes.
“A lot of the teams we played didn’t have great quarterbacks, they were more running quarterbacks, so I had to read them and jump on the ball.”
Hiram told Gilbert they’ll look to use his defensive abilities when he plays for the Terriers as he’ll stay at free safety.
On the baseball side of things, Gilbert will be a second basemen.
“Baseball has always been my first option and I’ve always wanted to play at the next level,” he said. “I talked to the coaches and they’ll have me playing at second (which he currently plays for Lakeside).
“For football, they told me I’d be playing free safety.”
Gilbert said he understood that Hiram is a smaller school, but he likes the campus and hopes to be a standout for the Terriers.
“I know it’s a small school, but I feel like I can stand out there,” he said. “I really liked the people on campus. I know their baseball program is pretty good so that will be fun to be a part of.
“The football team is looking to turn things around and I look forward to helping them turn it around.”
Gilbert said one game for each sport stands out to him as his favorite memories at Lakeside.
“My favorite football game was definitely Edgewood this past season,” he said. “Beating a rival is always such a good feeling.
“For baseball, we really haven’t had many great years but last year against Geneva really stands out. We had a walk off win, that’s really exciting.”
For Gilbert, the fact that he’ll be heading to Hiram in just over three months hasn’t sunk in yet.
“Actually, not (it hasn’t), this whole school year has flown by,” he said. “I’m just trying to grasp it while I can.”
Gilbert said Lakeside baseball coach Andy Kiphart has been the biggest influence on him during his time at Lakeside.
“Definitely, Coach Kiphart has been great to play for,” he said. “He’s helped me so much with my mechanics and stuff like that.”
The son of Shannon and Jason Cerney said his parents were helpful in guiding him through the recruiting process.
“They really left everything up to me to make my own decisions,” he said. “They helped me through it to make sure I picked the right school and a good major, but they allowed me to make my decision.”
Gilbert said he plans to major in communications with the hope of being a sports broadcaster.
“I love sports, I love talking about sports with anyone,” he said. “So I know definitely want to go into a job in sports.”
Gilbert won’t be putting any expectations on himself such as starting from Day 1, but he said he hopes to get the opportunity to play early on.
“I mean, I want to start at some point,” he said. “I just want to get on that big field and what it’s like to play at a bigger level.”