She's the Griz mom who fought to let kids play sports again during the COVID-19 shutdowns. Not only is her son the 2023 Jerry Rice Award recipient, but Dawn Gillman is a State Representative in the Minnesota House of Representatives.

Dawn Gillman is the mother of Griz running back Eli Gillman, #10 in the photo above.

As the University of Montana Grizzlies gear up for the big FCS semifinal against the North Dakota State University Bison this Saturday, what a great time to chat with Rep. Gillman. We talked football, adoption, the unnecessary lockdowns, and more.

She credits his running back coach Justin Green for bringing Eli to Montana.

Aaron Flint: He's (Eli) the recipient of the 2023 Jerry Rice award. How incredible was that?

Rep. Gillman: Just a huge honor and blessing. Hats off to the O line. I mean, and we could see that in the last game- if the O line doesn't create holes, it's tough for backs to get through. So big hats off to their coaches and just the guys that work hard up front to create space. And then if you've got room- he's gonna barrel through there. So it's who he's always been and how he's playing is how Eli's always been.

What got her to start the "Let Them Play" Minnesota group? What pushed her to fight to end the lockdowns that cancelled school sports?

Rep. Gillman: I think what really motivated me, too, is I had gotten an obituary of a young man that was by a neighboring town of ours that had ended his life. He had been sent home several times by a 'close contact,' and it just was overwhelming. And he, you know, he isn't here anymore. A great kid on a football team. He was a son and a brother to these siblings- and it was just tragic to see just the mental health toll on kids and families. And I'm like, we got to figure out how to do this.

Full audio of our conversation with Dawn Gillman is included below, right after our chat with Montana Governor Greg Gianforte (R-MT):    

LOOK: 50 images of winning moments from sports history

Sometimes images are the best way to honor the figures we've lost. When tragedy swiftly reminds us that sports are far from the most consequential thing in life, we can still look back on an athlete's winning moment that felt larger than life, remaining grateful for their sacrifice on the court and bringing joy to millions.

Read on to explore the full collection of 50 images Stacker compiled showcasing various iconic winning moments in sports history. Covering achievements from a multitude of sports, these images represent stunning personal achievements, team championships, and athletic perseverance.

Gallery Credit: Peter Richman


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