Running Fast: Like Father, Like Son for Gibbons' Family

Tim Gibbons, father and coach

What's the season like for you as a coach?
Ha! Depends on the day, especially this year.  If you're talking about the 2020 season....this has been the most mentally exhausting season ever, with all of the Covid junk.  If you're talking about my role as a coach, in general, that could be a wide range of tasks, such as answering tons of emails/texts/phone calls, planning practices, planning race day logistics, etc.  I think any coach (for any sport) will tell you that you're not just a coach to the kids you work with.  Doctor, big brother, confidant, etc....The list can go on and on.  Coaching can definitely be frustrating at times, but it's also very rewarding. One thing I'm always praying for is that I can be a positive influence and encouragement to the kids I work with.  Not sure how good a job I do of that, but I enjoy building relationships and seeing kids mature from year to year.

How is your team doing?
We're having a pretty good year, especially considering we lost our number two, number three, number four, number five, number six, and number eight from last year's boys' team.  We definitely came into the year, in rebuild mode, but thankfully we have had a lot of people step up.  On the girl's side, we are a little banged up right now, but definitely have a lot of talent.  If they can put it all together, on the same day, it's going to be pretty impressive.  We have a fairly young team, on both sides, so they should continue improving.

"We run together almost every day now.....except for speed days, where I can't quite hang with him anymore." - Tim Gibbons

What's it like to have your son running on the Southside Christian team?
It has been really good.  I'll be honest, when he first said he wanted to join XC, I wasn't sure how it would work.  I had never coached him in anything before and wasn't sure how he would respond to the coaching side of me.  I told him from the beginning though, that there wouldn't be any special treatment, and that if he wanted to join, he had to be all in.  After going through nearly 2 seasons now, I actually think it has made us closer.  We run together almost every day now.....except for speed days, where I can't quite hang with him anymore.

Comparing his times now to yours at this age, how do they compare?
Well, I didn't start running XC until my sophomore year, so it's hard to compare exact ages, but he's ahead of where I was in high school.  I don't remember my exact times, but I was somewhere in the 17:15-17:20 range as a sophomore, 16:40-16:50 as a junior, and then 16:11 as a senior.  One of his goals this year has been to break my high school PR, and he is less than 10 seconds from doing an eighth-grader.

How do you balance the son and coach relationship on the course and at home?
It has actually gone pretty smoothly so far.  The Lord has blessed Grayson with some natural ability and he works really hard, so he is easy to coach. Pretty much any coach will tell you, that when you get someone with both of those qualities, you tend to get good results.  I guess what makes him different, is that he has those qualities as a middle schooler.  He would actually do more if I'd let him, but I'm trying to look at the long term picture, which means holding him back a little.  As far as how it crosses over to home, that hasn't been much of an issue either, because he is respectful and well behaved.  If he wasn't, I'm not sure what that would look like, so I'm just praying he stays that way. My wife and I are constantly reminding him that he has been given a gift, but that it can be taken away at any moment, and to make sure he always gives God the glory.

A rankings | Team rankings | Virtual meet

Not sure if you want to use it, but another question that I get asked a lot is.....

"Did you know he was going to be this good?"
Not even close!  A lot of people assume that I've been training him since he was five years old, or something, but he actually didn't start until the summer, going into 7th grade.  He had run a couple of charity type 5Ks when he was younger, but there wasn't any training involved.  I really thought he'd be somewhere in the 21-minute range as a seventh-grader, and when I was really being optimistic, I hoped he would get the seventh-grade school record (19:26 at the time).  In his first race of the season (Trojan Invitational), he ran like an 18:45 (Watch the race).  Each race he ran, I kept thinking "surely he can't run any faster this year."  By the end of the season, he was down to 16:38 (Watch the race).  Some talent evaluator I am, huh?

Grayson Gibbons

How and why did you get involved in the sport?
Well, Dad coached for Southside Christian and I had run a few 5Ks before, so I figured hey why not try it out and see how it goes.

What's your motivation?
If God blessed you with the ability and you don't use it then you are not taking advantage of an awesome gift, plus I love running in general.

Race day: Friday at 12:30 p.m.

How do you look at having the fastest time in the state for the eighth grade?
A blessing and I want to keep improving that time.

South Carolina Cross Country State Qualifiers Hub

How do you relate with your dad as a coach on your team?
At practice, he is the coach and I am the athlete. Now obviously we do talk about home stuff while we run. We also talk about how hard practice can be at times (those speed workouts are not easy).

What do you hope to achieve for the rest of this year and the future?
For this year I am pushing hard for a sub 16:10 but I am also looking to break 16 this season.

"Well, Dad coached for Southside Christian and I had run a few 5Ks before, so I figured hey why not try it out and see how it goes." - Grayson Gibbons

Do you and your dad talk about his running when he was your age?
Yes. I mainly ask him where did he run, what did he run (for track) and what were his times when he was my age.

What kind of race strategy do you prefer?
I don't kill myself at the start. I go out hard and hold that pace so I can come in hard.

Watch: Grayson Gibbons runs 16:09 at Riverside Starlight Run

How have you overcome any challenges?
Time barriers are sometimes the biggest barriers but there are also mental barriers to overcome like if I run my pr but I get smoked or do not hit the place I was wanting then you just have to say good race to the person who beat you.

How's training now and will it change leading up to state? Please explain.
We are focusing hard every week of the season, though the next few weeks we are really going to just hammer it before we back off.

What other hobbies do you have?
I really do not have many hobbies but of course, it depends on your definition of hobbies. I like reading and running and just chilling at times.