By Matt Burnham
Matt: Thanks for doing this interview with me. We’re not always the most active people in the discord outside of the locker room, so I think this will be a nice chance for people to get to know the team, our core ideals, and our work ethic a little better. With that said, let’s start with the questions.
Matt: You’ve been a steadfast of San Francisco for multiple seasons now. What factors have kept you here?
Gabriel: One of the greatest factors that’s kept me in San Francisco is the loyalty of the organization and the way I’m treated by the organization on the whole, both as a player and now as the OC/Co-GM. Also, Ogun Zulu has helped me to understand the other side, not just on the field.
Matt: The other side being your work as GM and playbook drafting?
Gabriel: Yes totally. Because we as players don’t understand the time and work it takes to create a successful playbook and to find the right blend of people for your locker room.
Matt: San Fran is a relatively new team still, coming up on only its 3rd season. What aspects do you think help a team that is still building its own franchise stand out amidst a crowd of established franchises?
Gabriel: Again, I go back to locker room, ownership, and all those things that help players form the direction the organization wants to go. Next thing is, we really want to limit distractions and all those issues that have the potential to break the camaraderie and the good locker room experience that we want to have.
Matt: What are you looking forward to most about the Sharks this coming season?
Gabriel: Our first step for the upcoming season is to field a solid unit on both sides of the ball. We have players who believe in the team and who understand the system. Most of all, just looking forward to unveiling a team with the mindset of what it takes to win.
Matt: Do you think the Sharks have what it takes to help foster that mindset?
Gabriel: Yes I do. The reason being we have had guys step up and take on responsibilities without being asked. They have seen the need and say “I’ll take on that” or “I’ll do that” which helps the staff out tremendously. Now Dylan and myself are freed up to work on the playbook and the signing of players, and as far as communication and staff go, Ogun Zulu (Ryan Moats) has created a space called the “G8” where the staff can bounce ideas off one another or just simply talk about the upcoming season. At this moment, communication is at an all-time high between the staff and players.
Matt: How do you feel about the one-conference set up?
Gabriel: All I can say really is that it’s different, but I like it. I also like the fact that we have the opportunity to play a few teams who we wouldn’t normally have played, plus we get to face a few ex-Shark players; that’s always good [laughs]. But in truth, it’s a good thing for Season 12… every game will be a dog fight for a good position.
Matt: That being said, who are you most looking forward to getting a crack at this season now that the conference barriers are down?
Gabriel: Tallahassee of course… people forget San Francisco has 1 of the wins in the Storm’s 2 losses over the last two seasons. Would love to get one on the Pride this season aswell.
Matt: Any final comments? Either about the team or about the SFL in general?
Gabriel: I know I, as a player, really enjoy the league. I just hate that I only found it so late (Season 10). I’m here now, so don’t sleep on the San Francisco Sharks… #stayoutthewater.