Will Gholston Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Will Gholston of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers: A Conversation about Fatherhood & Football

Tampa Bay Buccaneers Defensive Lineman Will Gholston became a father and an NFL player at the same time. Eight years and three kids later, he’s mastered both roles. The pro football player and pro dad shared the secrets to his success when we connected with him and his fiancée, Gabby Balkman, via Zoom, just days after the start of the much-anticipated 2020 season.

Related: Family and Football: Mike Evans on lessons from the field to home

Maggie: How did it feel to be able to put on a Bucs uniform again and get the season going after the stress and uncertainty that COVID-19 created this summer?

Will Gholston: I was just actually grateful to be able to play…With all the stuff that’s going on, to be able to have an outlet like football, which I actually use as my outlet, it was cool. It was dope. I feel very lucky that they let the season go on.

Maggie: Your rookie year with the NFL was also your rookie year of fatherhood. What was it like to take on two huge roles at the same time at the age of 21?

Will: When I first got into the NFL, I was down in Florida by myself. I didn’t have [my son] William with me, so it wasn’t as hard a transition into the league. It was just really me focusing on football. Then… we started bringing him down [from Michigan]. Gabby brought him down. She’s the glue. I can’t even take any credit. She’s the glue. She holds it down, without a doubt. Without her, it might fall to shambles.

Maggie: Now you have three sons [William, Jr. (8), Sebastian (3) and Victor (1)] and you’re going on your third contract with the Bucs. Do you feel like you’re a pro at both jobs by now?

Will: I think, with the time at both, I’ve definitely gotten better. There’s a lot of lessons I had to learn. There are a lot of things and new tricks that I learn every day. And with the assistance of Gabby and the family and everyone else around, it’s like a community, a village type of thing. That’s how I believe you should raise a child. It takes a village to raise a child, especially three of them! But I think I’ve gotten better every day.

Will Gholston Tampa Bay Buccaneers


Defensive Lineman William Gholston #92 of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers with his family. Photo By Kyle Zedaker/Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Maggie: What do you think, Gabby? Is he a pro dad?

Gabby: Yeah, he’s a pro! The boys love daddy so much. We have an alarm system when our doors open and my youngest one, every time a door opens, he’s like ‘daddy? It could be anybody and he thinks it’s him walking through the door. They see his car pull up and that’s it, that’s a wrap, no more mommy time— it’s daddy. So he’s definitely a pro.

Related: Game Day Fun: A day at Raymond James Stadium with the Bucs

Maggie: What’s important to you in parenting?

Will: The most important thing is to understand that a child is still a child and not to overburden them with your expectations. You still gotta let them grow, and that’s something I had to learn. That’s the most important thing— to still allow them to grow and guide them without putting such a burden on them to say, ‘Oh, you have to be great’. You just need to be a kid and be happy. We’ll guide you to be great.

Gabby: Just let the kids be kids. They’re not adults. They don’t need to know our struggles or worry going on every day in life. Just let them be kids.

Maggie: How do you juggle fatherhood and football?

Will Gholston: I think about them all the time whenever I’m in the locker room. Anybody you talk to knows I talk about the kids and the family all the time. But as far as juggling, I know work is work… but when I get home…we play, we laugh. I try to give each one of them their own individual time, and then we get some group time. I make sure I’m at home to tuck them in and kiss them goodnight.

Maggie: Are they a big motivator for you in life, in football, in everything?

Will: Definitely. We all bear the same last name that’s on the back of my jersey, and I feel like to be able to leave the right legacy for them—not just being an athlete and making it in the NFL, but leaving the legacy of knowing and understanding—ok, dad was this type of man, this is what he believed in, he tried to be a man of his word— that’s the type of legacy I’m trying to leave behind with them so they’ll have an understanding when they get older.

Related: Perseverance, Character and Teamwork: Life Lessons with Shaquil Barrett

Maggie: Fast forward to February. Do you see your sons cheering you on as you play for their hometown team in their home stadium in the Super Bowl?

Will: I’ve been thinking about that since I’ve known that the Super Bowl was here. I’ll put every ounce of energy I have to make myself good enough to contribute for us to be able to do that… And if— not if, when— when we do it and we win, it’ll be amazing!

Mikey (Maggie’s 10-year-old son): When you scrimmage with the offense in practice, do you guys sack Tom Brady or take it easy on him?

Will : It’s an unspoken rule. You never hit your quarterback. You only hit the opposing team’s quarterback. If I had a free shot on him, I wouldn’t touch him. I’d run right past him and just let the play go on. You never hit your own quarterback.

Maggie: Finish these sentences: I will feel I have succeeded at parenting if my kids…

Will: … if my kids are happy, healthy and productive members of society.

Maggie: I will feel I have succeeded at football if…

Will Gholston: … if by the time I’m done, Tampa Bay is on top.

Will Gholston


Defensive Lineman William Gholston #92 of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers with his family. Photo By Kyle Zedaker/Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Will Gholston and his boys’ favorite places in Tampa Bay (besides their backyard playground and pool):

  • Goody Goody Burger
  • PK’s PlayZone & Grille
  • Altitude Trampoline Park

Will Gholston Tampa Bay Buccaneers

*Photography by Kyle Zedaker/Tampa Bay Buccaneers