Gentile: Football virtuoso Diversified: Wilde Lake's linebacker named after a poet also is regarded as one of the finest high school piano players in the country.

November 02, 1995|By Rick Belz | Rick Belz,SUN STAFF

When Dylan Gentile is not rattling the ivories, he's rattling opposing quarterbacks.

Gentile, a Wilde Lake senior linebacker, admits that piano and football are an unusual combination of interests for a teen-ager.

But his national-level talents on the piano have not dimmed his ardent desire to play sports.

"My parents have tried to get me to quit football several times, but I love sports too much," Gentile said.

He is named after Welsh poet Dylan Thomas, and English is his favorite academic course, so it should be no surprise that reading quarterbacks is what Gentile does best on the football field.

"I like to shed blocks and get into the backfield and take someone down for a loss," he said. "I love to hit."

Wildecats football coach Doug DuVall is happy to have the 5-foot-9, 175-pound Gentile, who is playing his fourth season of football as a starter.

"He's our renaissance man," said DuVall. "He takes great pride in his athletics, and is so bright he can play a lot of different positions. He loves the game and is a solid high school player."

So far Gentile has avoided breaking any fingers, much to his parents' delight.

"Knock on wood, but I've got real thick fingers," Gentile said.

Unlike most athletes who dream of playing professional sports, Gentile's dream is of a career performing on the piano. It's a dream that holds promise.

He's a finalist in the Maryland Distinguished Scholar music competition and he won first prize for piano at the Maryland State Teachers Association high school competition last February.

Two summers ago, he was invited, after an audition, to a prestigious music camp at Tanglewood in Massachusetts. And last summer he attended another top camp at Chautauqua in upstate New York. Only the top high school piano players around the country receive such invitations.

Gentile said that hearing pianist Leon Fleisher play at Tanglewood had a big influence on him. Fleisher, who overcame carpal-tunnel syndrome that paralyzed his right hand, performed Ravel's left-handed piano concerto, a piece that is now the left-handed Gentile's favorite.

This January and February Gentile will audition for some of the top music colleges, including Julliard and the Manhattan School of Music.

He has played piano for nine years. His teacher for the past six years, Dr. Raymond Jackson, is a professor at Howard University.

Gentile belongs to three music groups at school -- the madrigal singers, the barbershop quartet and the choir. He's not playing in the band this season because of heavy course requirements.

Sandra Adkins, Wilde Lake's choir director, said: "He's one of the most talented people to come through here. He's very versatile and extremely intelligent. He's good at whatever he does, whether music or football."

He scored 1390 on his Scholastic Assessment Test and has a 3.1 GPA.

Gentile, who sings bass, also dabbles in theater, and played the role of the wolf in a Wilde Lake production of "Into The Woods."

Wilde Lake's theater group was honored with an invitation to the Edinburgh Festival in Scotland next summer, and Gentile will play the piano accompaniment to "Smile," a play about a beauty pageant.

In addition to football, Gentile wrestled one year, and he pitches and plays first base for the varsity baseball team. He hopes to play baseball in college.

And in case anyone thinks he likes only classical music, he's into the rap group Wu-Tang.

"The whole football team is big on them," Gentile said. "Every time we've listened to them before a game, we've won. Every time we haven't, we've lost."

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