The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

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Texas A&M University System Chancellor John Sharp attends the Class of 1972 50-year reunion in Kyle Field on April 20, 2022.
A&M System’s Title IX director suspended after supporting Biden's Title IX changes
Nicholas Gutteridge, Managing Editor • May 23, 2024
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Texas A&M starting pitcher/relief pitcher Emiley Kennedy (11) hands the ball to starting pitcher/relief pitcher Brooke Vestal (19) during Texas A&M’s game against Texas at the Austin Super Regional at Red and Charline McCombs Field in Austin, Texas, on Saturday, May 25, 2024. (CJ Smith/The Battalion)
Aggies’ comeback falls short in 9-8 loss to Longhorns
Luke White, Sports Editor • May 25, 2024

As the fifth inning drew to a close in Texas A&M softball’s Super Regional matchup with No. 1 Texas on Saturday, the Aggies found themselves...

Texas A&M utility Gavin Grahovac (9) throws the ball during A&Ms game against Georgia on Friday, April 26, 2024, at Olsen Field. (CJ Smith/The Battalion)
Southern slugfest
May 23, 2024
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Beekeeper Shelby Dittman scoops bees back into their hive during a visit on Friday, April 5, 2024. (Kyle Heise/The Battalion)
Bee-hind the scenes
Shalina Sabih, Sports Writer • May 1, 2024

The speakers turn on. Static clicks. And a voice reads “Your starting lineup for the Texas A&M Aggies is …” Spectators hear that...

Kennedy White, 19, sits for a portrait in the sweats she wore the night of her alleged assault inside the Y.M.C.A building that holds Texas A&M’s Title IX offices in College Station, Texas on Feb. 16, 2024 (Ishika Samant/The Battalion).
'I was terrified'
April 25, 2024
Scenes from 74
Scenes from '74
April 25, 2024
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Farewell from the graduating Battalion staff of 2024
Farewell from the graduating Battalion staff of 2024
The Battalion May 4, 2024

No place like home

 
 

Over the last few years, the Aggie women’s basketball team has been known for its dominant centers. First was Danielle Adams, who led the team to its first National Championship in 2011 while taking home All-American honors. Then came Kelsey Bone, another All-American who carried her squad to an SEC tournament championship while earning tournament MVP honors in A&M’s first year in the league.
This year’s starting center is unique in her own right, having been born and raised in College Station. Senior Karla Gilbert’s basketball roots run deep along with her connection to her hometown.
“I loved it,” Gilbert said. “Believe it or not, a lot of times I still didn’t get to see my parents, so I still was away from home being at home. But when you always needed that shoulder [to lean on] or something like that, I could just drive down the road and there my parents are.”
Gilbert comes from an athletic lineage. Her mother Nelda played basketball at the University of North Texas. Her brother Jimmie is a defensive lineman for the University of Colorado. Her father, also named Jimmie, is an Aggie who played basketball from 1983-1986 and earned Southwest Conference Newcomer honors.
Gilbert’s mother coached Karla during her days at A&M Consolidated High School. Gilbert said her parents have always had a influence on her growth as a player.
“I don’t even think about it. I’m used to it,” Gilbert said. “My parents have been coaching me since I was in elementary school. With city league all-star teams and AAU tournaments, my parents have always been around coaching me. It’s just life.”
Gilbert was rated as the No. 1 post player in the country by ESPN for the Class of 2010 coming out of high school. She was also a McDonald’s High School All-American and chose to stay at home and play for A&M over a number of successful women’s basketball programs including Duke, Baylor and Connecticut.
“Being a part of the Aggie family, we always came to the games, both men and women,” Gilbert said. “Just seeing the crowds and the family atmosphere, it feels good to actually be a part of it. It means a lot to be home.”
Gilbert was behind two All-Americans at the center position until this year. Rather than transferring, Gilbert waited her turn.
“Karla waited behind two All-Americans without transferring,” said Texas A&M head coach Gary Blair. “That’s the famous word in college, ‘Well I’ve got to transfer, I’m not getting my playing time.’ What’s wrong with the education at Texas A&M and the opportunity to play where your dad was an All-Southwest Conference player, stay in your hometown and have a chance to make the All-SEC [team] and continue playing pro ball? It’s been good for her, it’s been good for our community to have someone like her and Alex Caruso represent their high schools here in town.”
As a freshman, Gilbert played seven minutes and scored two points in A&M’s 76-70 win over Notre Dame in the 2011 National Championship game. However, her journey has meant more to her than any single game.
“The whole college experience – actually seeing what the Big 12 was about, and then the SEC – the traveling and the different teams, it’s been a good experience,” Gilbert said.
Gilbert is a special education major and said she plans to graduate in December. She said special education teachers need to be invested in their students rather than merely taking the job at face value.
“There needs to be a lot more help in special education,” Gilbert said. “It’s something different, but I think being a part of special education also teaches you a lesson about life.”
Gilbert and her teammates regularly volunteer in local elementary schools. The team has emphasized reaching out and connecting with younger generations in the community, noting the importance of using their positions as student athletes to benefit those around them.
“[It’s important] to show that we appreciate [our community],” Gilbert said. “We’re very busy, so I think it’s great when we actually find that hour or two in between to give back. We work with kids most of the time in the community service area, so coming to their classrooms they’re always excited and eager. I think [our visits] give them a drive.”
Though Gilbert has been a part of historical moments in her career, she and the team are hungry and want to go out as champions once again.
“I want to get more rings,” Gilbert said. “Who doesn’t want more rings to put on their finger? I also want to continue to improve. With basketball, there’s always improvement.”
With many options ahead of Gilbert after graduation, she has yet to decide where her next steps will take her.
“In 10 or 15 years? Somehow, I want to give back to the community,” Gilbert said. “Coaching, still being a part of basketball, teaching. Maybe I’ll be blessed with a family by then, who knows?”

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