John "Jack" Gillespie

Football, Basketball, Baseball





For five years (1953-1957), Jack Gillespie participated in varsity sports at Ipswich High School. As an eighth grader he was recruited as catcher for the high school baseball team and during the next four years, he played at a high level on the football, basketball, and baseball varsity teams. Jack was a “natural” and one of the best all-time three-sport athletes at Ipswich High. He received thirteen varsity letters—5 in baseball, 4 each in football and basketball.

Jack was a valuable member of the Class D Championship 1954 & 1955 football teams. Football coach Elliott Roundy noted that Jack was “the best all round player on our squad, absolutely fearless.” In 1954, Jack was the second highest scorer with 69 points. In 1956, Ipswich’s 22 game winning streak ended, but in that hard-fought game he was voted Most Valuable Player. “Gillespie handled the kicking and passing; scored all four touchdowns and rushed the line for the four extra points.” Jack received the AHEPA Trophy as most valuable player in both 1955 and 1956 and played in the first annual Harry Agganis All-Star Football Classic in 1956.

Gillespie was the third highest scorer on the 1954-55 Ipswich High School basketball team. In his freshman year, his baseball team won the Cape Ann League and advanced to the finals of the Massachusetts Small Schools Championship. He also was the catcher that year on the Malden City Club team playing against college and minor league players and was considered to be “the most promising (high school) backstop in the area.” He was also invited to play in the 1955 All Star Game in Waltham by the St. Louis Cardinals scout.

Jack went on to receive a football scholarship to the University of Arizona where he played varsity football for four years. Playing fullback, halfback, and linebacker, he was called the “Power Plus” runner by University of Arizona Wildcat fans and sportswriters. In 1960, he received the Homecoming Trophy as Most Valuable Player, the Wildcats Tackling Award, and the Most Valuable Player in Arizona’s victory over Idaho. In December, he played halfback in the 3rd Annual Copper Bowl Football Classic between the Southwest All-Stars and the National All-Stars. “Not only was Jack Gillespie an outstanding player, he was a loyal man of great character.” (Joe Hernandez, U of A Hall of Fame, 1960 & 1961) Upon graduation from the University of Arizona in 1961, he became a well-respected history teacher. The lessons he had learned on the field and court were passed on to his students and teams. Jack coached football, baseball, and water polo at Hueneme High School in Port Hueneme, California. He was forever grateful for the support given him by his family, teammates, coaches, and community. He married his high school sweetheart Patricia and had two beautiful daughters, Kellie and Gigi.