Gavin Weeks '06
Photo by Sam Masinter '04

Weeks and the Jeffs' offensive line have paved the way for over 2,900 rushing yards over the past two seasons.

Amherst's Weeks Paves the Way for NESCAC's Top Rushing Attack

October 17, 2005

AMHERST, MA - Change is nothing new for Amherst College senior tri-captain Gavin Weeks (Cranston, NJ/Delbarton School). Midway through his collegiate career, Weeks was asked to change from his lifelong position of linebacker to the thankless job of an offensive lineman. If that were not enough, just months after having to readjust his focus and views on the game he loves, he was diagnosed with diabetes and was forced to change his entire lifestyle.

Although neither were welcome changes for Weeks, the football move was an easier transition. He had already added a lot of mass due to the intense Amherst weight training regimen and the fact that he was no longer playing sports year-round, and it just seemed the logical move for the team. The coaching staff approached him with the option of making the move, and Weeks, being the selfless player that he is, did what was best for the Jeffs. He sought out the advice of his high school coaches from Delbarton School in New Jersey before making his final decision. Weeks said, "My coaches told me to have fun with the time I have and reminded me that in 25 years I'm not going to look back and remember the time I had 10 tackles in some game against Wesleyan, but rather that junior year we won the Little Three and we beat Williams and had a great season. If moving to the offensive line was what was going to help the team, it was what I needed to do."

Weeks gives much of the credit for his successful position change to offensive line coach Rob Schur '98. "Coach Schur does a great job of getting us ready to play and organizing the group," Weeks said. "After playing here he knows what Amherst football is all about. He's helped us create our own little separate team within a team on the O-line and our own separate type of dynamic. He has to because it's a totally different view of football."

"I recruited Gavin and had a special relationship with him that allowed me to joke with him about coming over to the offensive line," said Schur. "When that situation became a reality for me it was wonderful. He exemplifies everything a coach would want in an offensive lineman. He's smart, tough, focused and he leads by example." He continued, "You can look at the statistics that the offense puts up and it's all a result of the demeanor of your offensive line. Having guys like Gavin around is what makes the difference."

On the other hand, the introduction into his life of his new illness was a much more dramatic change. Weeks began showing symptoms of diabetes in July 2004, before his junior year of college, while working in New York City on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Unsure of what triggered the disease, he began ingesting large quantities of water and found himself needing to use the restroom every 15-20 minutes. He was hospitalized, diagnosed and nursed back to health, but his new life would prove to be very different from what he was used to. He dropped more than 30 lbs. while in the hospital, and after his release his body sugar was still so high that he was limited to a 1,800 calorie per day diet. "I'm used to eating almost that many calories in one meal," Weeks said. "It was tough being limited to mostly salads and no sugars."

Once Weeks' blood sugar was under control he began trying to understand his new life. "I began eating regular meals three times a day and getting the insulin routine down so that I could keep my sugars regulated," he added. "Now I have it at a point where I've figured out when I can eat and take my insulin so that I keep it all under control."

Weeks continued, "I read something once on the subject that said, in the beginning it sucks, and it changes your whole life, but it turns into something that you don't even think about, like when you get up in the morning and brush your teeth. Before my meals I prick my finger and test my sugar and after my meal I take my insulin; it's part of a routine." He added, "My friends have been really good about it and they now check in with me throughout the day. It's gotten to the point where they know just by looking at me if I'm low and they help out."

Once back in a daily schedule that he could manage, Weeks faced the problem of regaining the strength and weight needed to perform on the offensive line.

"When I found out that Gavin had diabetes I had a vague idea of what he was going to have to go through, having lived with a diabetic for three years in college," said head coach E.J. Mills. "I also knew that he would handle it well because Gavin is just one of those guys who deals with the adversities that come his way and conquers them."

Weeks spent the rest of the summer and fall beefing back up and was able to earn the starting right tackle spot on the Jeffs' offensive line. He helped pave the way for 1,930 rushing yards in 2004, good for second in the NESCAC and 23rd in the nation, and he and his unit haven't skipped a beat in this fall, leading the conference with 1,035 rushing yards in the first four games.

Despite his success on the field, Weeks humbly highlights the successful play of his teammates. "We all depend on each other to get wins," he said. "Ngai (Otieno '06) and Dom (Cama '06) are both great running backs and a pleasure to block for, and the defense is really getting it done this year."

Weeks's passion for football stems from the love his father, David, has for the game. Before Gavin's football career took off, David served as a high school referee, but once time conflicts developed between officiating and watching his son play, he retired his whistle. Since then he has missed only one of Gavin's games and has gone as far as to charter a bus for this year's Middlebury game and bring up more than 40 relatives donned in t-shirts bearing his jersey number and name.

Off the field, Weeks prefers to be in the water. He has spent several summers surfing on the Jersey Shore and also enjoyed many scuba diving and sailing trips with his father. Although he is a political science major, he has spent most of his summers in the finance industry. Along with his time working in the New York Mercantile Exchange, he also spent this past summer working for Credit Suisse First Boston.

Weeks has always understood that life brings changes, whether it's something as simple as a position change in football or as drastic as a life-altering illness. With only four games left in his college football career, Weeks doesn't fear the change that comes as he finishes his time on the gridiron.