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 so...as 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.
"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?
Race day: Friday at 12:30 p.m.
How do you look at having the fastest time in the state for the eighth grade?