Gary Flavion entered his senior season as the undisputed veteran leader on the Presidents’ offensive line.
That’s good news for W&J because Flavion has experience as the leader of a group.
On December 18, 1989, his mother, Chris, gave birth to quadruplets and Gary, Lindsay, Whitney and Alexandra were welcomed into the world. The quadruplets also have an older sister, Amanda, who is an accountant in Pittsburgh. As the only male in the quartet, Gary admits that he usually has to take a lead role.
“All four of us have always looked up to our older sister, but, definitely among us four, I have always felt the need to watch over the girls,” said Flavion. “Being a quadruplet has been very cool and we are very close as a family.”
Athletics have always been a big part of the family. Gary’s grandfather played football at Princeton and his mother was a talented field hockey and lacrosse player. All five of Chris and Jim Flavion’s children developed into good athletes.
“Our house was nuts when we were younger,” he said with a laugh. “I know I have the best parents in the world because of how they handled everything we were doing. Every day was insane. We all owe them a great deal.”
However, as the quadruplets were making college decisions, it appeared for a time that none of them would continue an athletic career at the collegiate level.
“I considered a lot of the PAC schools in the recruiting process, but I wasn’t even sure if I wanted to play football,” added Flavion. “I visited W&J and knew right away this was the place for me. Having a great football program obviously played a role, but I was very attracted to the academic challenges W&J offers. I fell in love with the place and made the right decision.”
As usually the case with the Flavion quartet, one sibling was thinking along the same lines as her brother.
“Lindsay was a great lacrosse player in high school and visited W&J after I had already committed,” said Flavion. “She visited Ohio State, Penn State and some of the Ivy league schools, but she really liked the academic programs at W&J the best. She wanted to focus her school work so she didn’t end up playing lacrosse. I love having her here. We talk every day.”
Whitney and Alexandra decided to go a different route for their studies; however, they still share the same road. With a large enough bus in August, Jim and Chris could drop off Gary and Lindsay at W&J and then travel 46 miles further south to Morgantown, W.Va., where Whitney and Alexandra attend school. Alexandra did not envision becoming a member of the West Virginia crew team after enrolling, but she tried out for the squad and has become a valuable contributor for the Mountaineers.
In 2008, Gary arrived on campus for his first preseason football camp, but injuries to both knees hampered him the entire season. He has started every game since and earned All-Presidents’ Athletic Conference honors both years, including a first-team nod last fall. The first-team accolade was especially impressive considering Flavion suffered a torn meniscus in his right knee midway through the season. He played through the pain and had surgery to repair the injury during the offseason (Dec. 23).
“I want to bring the PAC Championship back to W&J,” said Flavion emphatically when asked of his goals for the 2011 season. “We haven’t won it in my three years and we return a lot of experienced guys. I think if we stay healthy, we could have a pretty memorable season.”
Flavion’s experience, in addition to senior offensive line starters Anthony Natale and Justin Cole, will play an even larger role with first-time starter Matt Bliss at quarterback.
“Our goal is to never have our quarterback touched, especially a young quarterback,” he said. “Matt definitely earned his position during preseason camp and he has a mentality that I think we can all rally around. As far as the offensive line, with all of the injuries we had last year, many players got opportunities and we are better because of that. We have a lot of faith in our backup linemen if their name gets called.”
Flavion credits former linemen Matt Houy and Kirk Fulton for taking him under their wings when he was a “scared freshman”. He treats this year’s freshman class with that same level of respect.
“We are like a fraternity,“ noted Flavion, a D3PRODAY.com Division III Preseason All-America selection. “The offensive line is always hanging out together. I want to emulate guys like Houy and Fulton because they made the college adjustment easier for me.”
A history major with a 3.5 grade-point average, Flavion is a candidate for CoSIDA Academic All-America. Next year, Flavion plans on attending graduate school where he aspires to become a history professor.
For the next three months, he and his teammates are hoping to create a little bit of history of their own by claiming the program’s 23rd PAC football title. W&J has not gone four years without winning at least a share of the conference championship since 1980-83. With one of the “Flavion Four” on the field and another in the bleachers, the Presidents are confident that streak will continue.