Don Gilbert, Bennett High School’s three sport ace, was the 1959-60 recipient of the Billy Kelly Memorial Trophy for the Buffalo Public Schools. The Kelly Trophy, named in honor of the late Courier-Express sports editor, is awarded annually to the most outstanding athlete, citizen, and scholar in the Buffalo Public Schools.
Don was also the 1959 recipient of the Buffalo Junior Chamber of Commerce “Junior Sportsman of the Year” award. This annual award is presented to the athlete with the most outstanding contribution to Buffalo athletics.
Don has his football cleat bronzed and mounted by Thom McAn as the recipient of their award for sportsmanship, leadership, competitive spirit, and team play in the Buffalo Public Schools.
Gilbert lettered and was a veteran of four varsity years in football, basketball, and baseball. He was named to first team All-High berths in each of the three sports for his junior and senior years. He captained each sport in his junior and senior years.
In his junior and senior years, Don quarterbacked the Bennett gridders to 15 straight wins, two undefeated seasons, and two Harvard Cups. He excelled as a guard on the basketball team which won the Yale Cup in his freshman, junior, and senior years. Don was a standout as a shortstop on the baseball team for three years. As a senior, he was named to the Courier-Express AllWestern New York football team and MVP in the Ad Club City-County All Star game.
The 5-10, 185 pounder is an easy athlete to coach, according to Elmer C. Rosenthal, Bennett’s physical education director. “He
gets along with all of the coaches, likes them, and obeys their instructions to a T,” said Rosenthal. “But he lost a friend when
(basketball coach) Fred Braun passed away. They were real close.”
Don attended the University of Buffalo on an athletic scholarship. He played three sports in college. Following UB, Don went on to play in the Canadian Football League with the Ottawa Rough Riders and the Winnipeg Blue Bombers. After his CFL career Don was the Head Football Coach/ Assistant Professor at the University of Ottawa, winning the Canadian National Championship “Vanier Cup” in 1975.
Don was inducted into the University of Buffalo Athletic Hall of Fame in 1979 and the University of Ottawa Athletic Hall of Fame