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Cardinal Corner: David Gater

OTP is proud to present our next installment of Cardinal Corner. It’s our chance to catch up with Cardinals of the past and gain some inside insight into this year’s Cardinal football team. Today’s guest? David Gater, a 4-year letterman at safety for the Cardinals from 2002-2005. Gater parlayed his success on the football field and in the classroom to a stint in professional football and is now in the coaching ranks.

Cardinal Corner: David Gater

OverThePylon: A lot of people won’t know that you went on to play professionally. Can you give us some insight into that and what else you’ve been up to?
David Gater:The Pro Football was just for fun. It is an arena league thats consists of about 14 teams of guys from all over the U.S. it was fun and made some extra cash along the way. I am in my third year as the Defensive Back coach for Trine University. We are a DIII college and we just won our conference (MIAA) and are going to the playoffs for the first time in school history. I am recently engaged and have a beautiful daughter Payton Nicole.

OTP: As an alum and former letter winner, how does it feel to see the Cardinals getting so much love from the press and doing so well on the field?
DG: I love it. I wanted to be able to keep up with the guys on the team I still know but it was difficult because of the lack of coverage. But now I get to watch them all the time. Now more people know where I went to school and I don’t have to explain where Muncie is or say the school where David Letterman is from.

OTP: Sean Baker, Trey Buice, BJ Hill, and Alex Knipp make up maybe the most underrated defensive back corps in the country. What are some things you notice about this secondary that makes them so outstanding? What are some things Cards fans should be worried about when it comes to the DB’s?
DG: The chemistry they have is incredible, and that is what you have to have if you want to be good. I remember Buice and Hill when I was there and they were two very athletic young kids. Now they are older, wiser and still very athletic. They do whatever it takes to cause an incomplete pass, very tenacious group of players. I had the pleasure of meeting Knipp when I came down for a game and for how hard he plays and acts on the field he is a very mellow and very intelligent young man.

OTP: In the coaching department, you played for both Bill Lynch and Brady Hoke. Both have experienced very different levels of success at Ball State. What’s been the secret for Brady that Coach Lynch didn’t have? As a coach yourself, what do you see as the main difference between the two?
DG: I respect both of them and their different styles of coaching. They reflect their personalities and obviously both ways work. I love them both and without them I would not be the man or coach I am today.

Coach Hoke is very intense all the time not just at practice and games but in meetings and film also. He teaches the game of football to the players so they are all on the same page. He does whatever it takes to have the best equipment and strength coaches (Wellman is Great). Even if it meant his job he would do it if he thought it was right for the program.

Coach Lynch is a little more laid back. He teaches the game of football too, just in a different environment. I was a young dumb freshman when he was there so I don’t know nearly about his relationship with the big wigs but I am sure he fought for us too. I have gone to IU to talk to his staff about X’s and O’s and he is still a great guy and interacts with the players just like I remember

OTP: Speaking of Coach Hoke, do you foresee him sticking around in Muncie for very long? Why or why not? What would you do to keep him here if you were in charge of the athletic department? Should he leave who should BSU look at as his replacement?
DG: Coach Hoke loves Ball State and Ball State Football. He would have to have one heck of a deal to leave a program he rebuilt from almost the ground up. Pay him and his staff more is the way to keep any coach around. They are going to have a strong case for pay raises after this season it is going to be interesting to see what happens. If he did leave they would probably look for a coach like him, an assistant at a big university that has the same passion he does about the program and
kids’ success.

OTP: The Cardinals remaining games are all Weekday games. How is the adjustment to playing mid-week? What sorts of things are different about a mid-week game compared to a Saturday contest?
DG: I only did it a couple of times but you have to prepare for it just like a Saturday. I have a very different kind of pregame routine. I would watch the Simpsons or South Park with Erik Keys on my DVD player before games because we liked to stay loose. Nothing changed for me except that we had class that day and really didn’t bother me that much. The tough part was that the coaches would treat a Monday like a Thursday if the game was on Wednesday, and that would confuse me because of the routine of a Thursday Practice then have to go to Tuesday classes. See it is even tough to follow when you read it. Try doing it.

OTP: What is your favorite memory as a Cardinal?
DG: My lifelong dream was to play DI football and everything after that is a bonus. I loved being in the lockerroom and weight room and film room with the guys. There is so much bonding that goes on you have to be there to experience it. And it is different every year because new freshman come in and some older guys quit, so it was fun to see the new lockerroom environment in August when everyone reported.

Specific memories would be beating Northern Illinois in Dekalb my senior year. It was different because we had freshman playing and guys playing that would not have played if not for the trouble we had off the field. Seeing everyone step up and win that game was special and I will always remember seeing Trey Lewis getting yelled at for playing soft by Coach Hoke. Then the next series hitting their QB harder than anybody I have ever seen get hit and fumbling the football.

(Ed. Note: Big thanks to David for taking the time to chat with us. His Trine Thunder capped a 10-0 season last Saturday and begin their playoff run this Saturday. Good luck to Coach Gater and the Thunder!)

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