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All American Game  | Story  | 8/17/2023

PGAAC "Surreal" for Gillen

Hannah Jo Groves     
Photo: Theo Gillen (Perfect Game)
Theo Gillen and his family were anticipating his Perfect Game All-American nod years before the phone call.

"It was a great news," Gillen said. "I was with my family when I got it and my parents knew the second I got the call and they started cheering throughout the house. It’s been a dream of mine ever since I first knew about the games when I was 13 and 14 getting invited to the Select Fest. I’ve always been looking up to those guys. And now to be one, it’s a surreal feeling."

Originally from Chicago, Illinois, Gillen's family moved to Austin, Texas, as he was going into the second grade. He's decided to keep calling the Lone Star State home, as he committed to the University of Texas last year.

"For me, it was just all about building relationships with the coaches," Gillen said. "I built a great relationship with Coach Pierce over there and Coach Tulowitzki and all those guys - they made it feel like home the second I stepped on campus for my visits."

Beyond Gillen’s relationship with the Texas coaching staff, staying close to family was a major factor when deciding where to further his academic and baseball career.

"I’m very close to my parents," Gillen said. "My mom travels a lot for work and so the time I get with her - I cherish it. My dad and I are together all the time - whether we’re watching baseball, watching football, we’re always together watching something or doing something with sports. I like to say he’s like my hitting coach because I say he constructed my swing. I give him credit for that."

While Theo attributes his swing to his dad, he said it's not the typical coach-to-athlete relationship.

"His rule was always [that] I have to go to him for us to talk about baseball or my mechanics and stuff like that," Gillen said. "He never wanted to [say] ‘hey, Theo, you should do this.’ I’ve had to go to him to ask him, ‘hey, what do you see here?’ and things like that."

Gillen's competitive drive was not always limited to the diamond - dabbling in football and basketball until high school.

"For football, I played everywhere," Gillen said. "I was even a kicker. And then for basketball, it was just mostly all my friends played back at home. So I loved playing with them and getting to compete with them."

But as Gillen’s gone through high school, he's set his sights specifically on baseball - challenging himself to increase his precision and power in the batter's box.

"I definitely think the biggest thing for me in the past year has been tapping into my power in my swing - trying to slug for slugging percentage and things like that - getting extra base hits," Gillen said. "I’ve always been more of a leadoff contact guy my whole life, and in the past year, I’ve been really trying to drive the ball to other parts of the field.”

Now entering his senior year of high school, Gillen is hopeful this All American nod is another accomplishment along his baseball journey.

"The end goal is just getting to play the game for as long as I can," Gillen said. "I just want to be a great player. I want my name to be remembered is the big thing. I want to play in the MLB of course and make it far, get drafted, play college baseball…I mean all these things I’ve been dreaming of my whole life and hopefully some of them become reality."