PASCO COUNTY, Fla. (WFLA) – His teammates at Sunlake High School called him “Gaff.”
His weight, although it may have been listed at 145 pounds on the roster, was actually closer to 100 pounds.
His former coach, Bill Browning, told News Channel 8 Sports’ Gabrielle Shirley that his fondest memory of Tyler Gaffalione, the jockey who won the Preakness Stakes on Saturday, revolves around a scuffle before the start of the 2011 football season.
“We were playing in a team summer camp,” said Browning. “And he was playing corner, a defensive back, and the other team was making fun of him on the sidelines. And we actually had an opponent come off the sidelines and push him and our team really rallied around Gaff and it brought our team a lot closer as a result.”
The football program at Sunlake High School turned the corner that year. They advanced to the playoffs for the first time in school history. Although Gaffalione only recorded three tackles and one catch that season, he still helped the team to climb into the history books.
Browning admitted he knew about Gaffalione’s connection to horses but he never knew how successful he would be on the track. He admits he did not watch the race but was still excited to hear the news about his former player’s success.
“I got a couple texts on it,” said Browning. “From a couple ex-players and I thought, ‘Wow! This is super!’”
You can watch the full interview in the video above.