Making It Work: Good Sportsmanship Makes Our Marriage Stronger
Courtesy of Deryk and Camille Gilmore

Popular sports agent and former college football coach Deryk Gilmore and his lovely wife Camille met at Penn State during undergrad. From day one they were perfectly in sync. He was a member of Omega Psi Phi fraternity at the time, and she had recently joined Alpha Kappa Alpha sorority.

One night, while in line at a McDonalds before heading out to a fraternity party, they locked eyes when they both ordered a “Coke with no ice” at the exact same time. They bonded at the party when they learned they were both native New Yorkers. (She’s from Queens, and he’s from Manhattan.) The cops broke up the party, but they stayed tightly connected even though she swore she’d never ever date a football player. Well, it’s a good thing she broke her own rule. Deryk turned out to be the love of her life and the husband she’d prayed for. After two years of dating, they tied the knot in 1993 and a truly beautiful partnership began.

The Atlanta residents are proud parents to two sons, both in middle school and battling autism. While Deryk built a successful career as a coach, mentor and agent, Camille climbed the corporate ladder at companies like IBM, Exxon, Federal Express and now Boston Scientific. Today Deryk represents some of the top players in the NFL.

Read what the dynamic duo has learned about teamwork and good sportsmanship in their marriage, and how it can apply to yours.

ESSENCE.COM: You will be celebrating 20 years of marital bliss next July. Wow! How did you make it there together?
CAMILLE GILMORE: You never go to sleep mad. That’s so true. We always just tell each other the truth. The wonderful thing is, Deryk and I have always been friends. We’ve been best friends since day one. You know, that’s my boy!

ESSENCE.COM: Would you say friendship is your biggest ally in your marriage?
DERYK GILMORE: Yes, I definitely think so. When you see people who aren’t good with their friends, that means they don’t understand friendship. How can they handle a real relationship if they can’t handle a friendship? But, the other thing just as important is a spiritual relationship. We’re both very strong members of our church and strong Christians, and that’s a very important part of our marriage. Having Christ in our life has been a real blessing.

CAMILLE: Even with the friendship, we push each other a lot. We want each other to be successful, so we push each other toward success. When we got out of undergrad, we both started to get our MBAs. After that, I remember when he asked me if he should get an extra masters degree in sports management, and I said, “Absolutely, let’s go!” We’ve always had a rule that whoever has the better opportunity, that’s where we’re going.

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DERYK: Yes, there has definitely been sacrifice.

CAMILLE: You have to know when to give and take.

ESSENCE.COM: So you two have had to be very flexible for the sake of each other’s careers? How’d that go?
CAMILLE: Yes, a perfect example: Deryk has had an awesome career coaching and we had to make some moves. We lived in Oregon for five years. There are no Black people in Oregon, except for football players! But, it was awesome and we had an exciting time. My mentor said Oregon would do one of two things: It would either tear us apart or bring us closer and closer to each other and to God. And, it did just that, because we had to rely on each other and that was it.

DERYK: My wife is a real powerful lady. She’s worked for a lot of major companies. I was coaching while she was doing that, so she made a lot sacrifices when we had to move so that I could have a successful coaching career. I was blessed because she ended up getting a great opportunity to work for a company and we’d have to move from Oregon to Atlanta. It wasn’t even a thought for me because I would do anything for her after what she’s done for me. When we got to Atlanta I joined Priority Sports agency and God opened that door for us. It has been great ever since.

ESSENCE.COM: You work so well together as a team. What are your tips for teamwork in a marriage?
CAMILLE: We never settle for where we are. We’re not complacent with the success that we have and we continue to push each other. If any point in time, either one of us needs to pick up the flack, we just do what we have to do. We have two boys, one is 14 and one is 12. If the boys need to be picked up or he’s running late he’ll call me and I’ll do it. We never talk to each other with “expectations.”

DERYK: Camille is not a weak woman. It’s a 50/50 partnership. If we had to drive across the country, she’d drive half the way. I know a lot of couple where the woman expects the man to pull all of the weight. That’s not Camille. I do dishes. I did diapers. We work well with the money together. We have trust.

CAMILLE: We don’t keep score! I think that what we learned early in our marriage, especially with finances, is that there needs to be a central pot for all of the major bills, and then we each should have a separate bank account that we can use for ourselves. We’re making sure that our individual needs are covered. It’s separate, but equal. Although, there’s trust there too, so we both still have access to each other’s money.

ESSENCE.COM: Every couple has their ups and downs. Has marriage always come so easy for you?
CAMILLE: Years one through five were a piece of cake. We were still in the honeymoon phase and had no kids. But it was years five through 10 that were different. The kids came. You really have to understand that it’s not just you and him anymore. Two new entities came into play. We now share ourselves with them, and we really had to get aligned on how we were going to raise our kids.

ESSENCE.COM: What do you want your kids to learn about love and marriage from watching the way you handle yours?
CAMILLE: Oh, wow. That’s a good question. I want them to learn that nothing can be done without each other. You have to have an ultimate foundation of trust and friendship that transcends everything.

DERYK: I actually told my 14-year-old the other day that you must put God first in your life. I also told him to never be with a woman who doesn’t appreciate you. If I do something for my wife, she appreciates it, and she’ll thank me. If you’re not appreciated, and you take each other for granted, marriage is tough.

CAMILLE: Once you get married it’s not like you get a playbook on how to be married. You have to work at it day-in and day-out. Things change. You’ve got to push each other and be each other’s support system.