Alumni Profile: Paul Gossling ‘74
Paul Gossling comes from a family that is, in his words, "about as Trinity a family as there is."
His father, the late Dr. Harry Gossling, graduated from Trinity in 1944, Paul graduated in 1974, and his son Brian, 27, is an IDP student at the College now, and will graduate this year. Paul met his wife, Nancy Eaton Gossling, who was a student at Wellesley College at the time, at Trinity, and the two got married a week after graduating. They also have a daughter, Megan, at the University of Vermont Medical School. His Trinity ties are deeper, as his parents got married at the Trinity College chapel and his father’s funeral ceremony was held at the same chapel, and was well attended by the tight-knit Trinity community.
"Trinity is obviously a very special place to me," Paul said.
His father, Harry, played football for the Bantams under legendary coach, Dan Jessee, but suffered a career-ending injury in a game against Coast Guard during his sophomore season. The head of the Orthopedic Surgery Department at Hartford Hospital worked on the injured knee, but more importantly, inspired the student to pursue a career in the medical field, and Harry eventually became the head of that same department years later. Later in his career, Dr. Gossling became the Head of Orthopedic Surgery at the University of Connecticut Medical Center, and became a trusted doctor for Trinity athletes. Thanks to a close relationship with Coach Jessee and his commitment to providing Trinity athletes with medical care, a young Paul had the opportunity to frequently visit the locker room and spend time with the players on the sideline. Since then, he always dreamed that he might one day suit up as a Bantam.
"The pride of being part of Trinity football became part of me at a very young age," he said about his time with the team. "I wanted to be like those Trinity football players. I wanted to be a Trinity football player."
And he eventually would suit up in a Trinity uniform. But because his high school did not have a football program, he was recruited to play soccer at the College after leading the New England Prep School League in scoring his junior and senior years. Playing football at Trinity was still just a dream.
In his freshman year at Trinity, he also played on the freshman baseball team. Don Miller, his freshman baseball coach at the time and also a legendary Bantam football coach, offered to make his dream a reality by asking him to take his speed to the gridiron and try out for Trinity. Paul, a starting forward on the soccer team, decided to go for it, and made the shift to football despite never having played a down of organized football in his life.
"He was willing to take a chance, learn from scratch and work hard," Berry O’Brien, his close friend and tri-captain of the team, said. "Because of that, Trinity football benefitted greatly."
Paul was taken as a wingback and wide receiver, and by his senior season, had worked his way to a starting position. In 1972, he earned a game ball for his performance against Bates and that ball now sits in his Glastonbury home aside his father’s game ball from the Coast Guard game in 1941 that Trinity won 14-13.
"The game balls are very special to me," he said. "They symbolize four years of Trinity football; two years by my father, and two years by me. It took the two of us to accomplish the four college years of playing football at Trinity."
Gossling attends all of the Trinity football events, including the golf outing and career service program, and provides financial assistance to the team. Gossling, who is on the Board of Directors at the Hazelden Foundation, which deals with addiction treatment, also talks to the team as a unit about the dangers of substance abuse.
"Paul epitomizes the special relationship our alums have with our current program," Head Coach Jeff Devanney said. "He sacrifices a lot of his time for others, and he has certainly done that for our program in many ways. He is a true friend of the program."
Devanney and Gossling have developed a great relationship away from campus as well, as they both share a passion for fishing. During the summer, you might spot the two on Gossling’s boat in Chatham, Mass., off the bay of Cape Cod. The mutual admiration they have for one another is evident from talking with either one.
"I am so impressed with him as an individual and as a coach," Gossling said about Devanney.
"Paul is simply a quality, first class human being," Devanney said about Gossling.