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Member Crush Monday: John Gyllin

“I may not remember what I ate yesterday,” John Gyllin said with a hearty laugh after a recent Florida Citrus Sports board meeting. “And I may not remember who I’ve met with this week.

An Orlando Sentinel recap of Cocoa’s 14-9 loss to Jones on Sept. 30, 1988 at Camping World Stadium. Gyllin was a center on the Cocoa team.

“But I’ll never forget that 14-9 loss to Jones.”

The loss Gyllin is referring to came on Sept. 30, 1988, when Gyllin and his Cocoa High School football teammates visited Camping World Stadium — then known as the Citrus Bowl — and came up short in a hard-fought matchup with division rival Jones, which called the stadium home until 2012.

A center on the Cocoa squad, Gyllin called the opportunity to compete in the stadium one of the highlights of his playing career — one that also took him to Henderson State University in Arkansas, where he also called games on the radio. So when Gyllin returned to Central Florida in 2011, when he was named vice president for resource and economic development at Seminole State College, it only made sense that he also return to his roots.

“When the opportunity arose for me to get engaged with Florida Citrus Sports, especially on the scouting side, I jumped at it,” said Gyllin, who also serves as the executive director of the Foundation for Seminole State College of Florida. “I (attended some) football games and absolutely loved the connectivity with Florida Citrus Sports and all the schools.”

Gyllin said his most memorable experience as a representative on the road for Florida Citrus Sports came when he had the chance to attend a North Carolina-Notre Dame game in South Bend in 2014.

“A guy that I played football with in high school, his son was a tailback at Notre Dame and he had the best game of his career that day,” Gyllin said of former Irish running back Tarean Folston, who had 98 rushing yards, 71 receiving yards and three total touchdowns in a 50-43 Notre Dame win. “So that was a great day. Then I got to see his postgame press conference and take pictures with him, and the next morning he was on the front page of the paper.”

Those types of unique experiences are part of the reasons Gyllin’s connection to Florida Citrus Sports has grown closer with each passing year. He also appreciates the networking he’s able to do with other members and local business leaders at events throughout the year.

Gyllin (left) congratulates Milton Carroll and other Volunteer of the Year award winners at the Florida Citrus Sports member celebration earlier this year.

“I’ve met so many people through Florida Citrus Sports,” Gyllin said. “And I think it’s a great connector of people. This area of Central Florida is so football-rich, if you will, with all the diverse college football folks around. I think it’s just a natural fit.”

As a result of his involvement with the organization, Gyllin was named one of 12 volunteers of the year during the 2016-17 season.

“They are very forward-thinking, very customer service-driven,” Gyllin said of Florida Citrus Sports. “They understand how to organize and work a volunteer network and get people to volunteer. It’s very easy with the product, because people resonate with college football. But I think they put out a fun atmosphere. Their events are not stuffy, they’re open and engaging. That’s what I like about that group.”

And at the end of the day, Gyllin says, the renovated stadium and the action on the field — a field he once played on, himself — are reason enough to keep coming back.

“I remember how dilapidated it was,” Gyllin recalled of the building prior to the 2014 renovation. “I’ve been to the games, played in games, been underneath, on the concourse, when it was leaking. Now, to be able to walk through that stadium and see how easy it is to get around and really have a good day and experience — it’s unbelievable.”