Tyrone graduate dancing at UMBC

Gehret in first year as Retrievers’ trainer

As the final seconds of the University of Maryland-Baltimore County’s historic upset over No. 1 seed Virginia ticked off the clock Friday night, Tyrone graduate Brandon Gehret had a hard time keeping his composure.

Gehret, in his first year as the UMBC men’s basketball athletic trainer, rose from the bench with the rest of the team and took in the atmosphere.

“I was sitting on the bench right behind the net,” Gehret said. “It was surreal feeling. I knew how we could play, and Virginia is a slow-it-down team, but we are up-tempo. When it was halftime, and it was tied, we knew if we hit shots we could pull away.”

Gehret, a 2008 graduate and former member of the Golden Eagles basketball team, had worked as a trainer at Saint Bonaventure from 2012 to 2016 before taking a job at UMBC in July of 2016.

When he started, he was the trainer for the women’s soccer team and the baseball squad. Last June, when the head trainer retired, Gehret volunteered to fill the spot for the men’s basketball team and took over in August.

“We opened up the year at SMU without our point guard and lost by single digits,” Gehret said. “We were down three to Arizona in the second half. Then the grind of the season hit, and we lost some close games. In the conference tourney, we got the two seed. We went to Vermont and won on a last-second shot. It seemed like it was destined.”

Gehret said nothing out of the ordinary happened during the pre-game speech Friday night.

“It was pretty calm,” Gehret said. “We were a 16-seed playing a No. 1 seed. We had no pressure, we just wanted to go out and play like we knew we could.”

Gehret’s first year on the job came with a rough patch. While the team was on a road trip playing against Army and the Citadel, he got a call from high school teammate Travis Peterman that one of his best friends, Steve Catich, had passed away.

Catich was Tyrone’s star player during Gehret’s time on the basketball team and went on to play collegiately at Wheeling Jesuit where he experienced even more success.

“I broke down on the bus,” Gehret said. “Everybody was really understanding, and I got to go home for Steve’s funeral. I missed our game against Towson, which we lost.

“I came back, and we made a run in the tournament. It was like he was there for us. The rest of the season, I had this higher-power feeling. When we came down here, there were a lot of omens, different songs, different things that were very eerie and odd like Steve was up there rooting for us.”

Gehret’s last conversation with Catich was about UMBC.

“Last time we talked, he told me if we didn’t lose to Arizona by 30 we were pretty good,” Gehret said. “We only lost by 24 and were in the game in the second half. He had talked about coming down to see one of our games, but it never happened.”

Gehret wrote on his Facebook wall before Friday’s game that UMBC’s game was for Catich, and now Gehret and his team will be a part of history as the first No. 16 seed to beat a No. 1 seed in the NCAA men’s basketball tournament.

“It’s surreal to think that for years to come we’ll always have that bond with these guys,” Gehret said. “No one can ever take away that we were the first team to do it.”