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Wrestler's foundation is in his faith, not the sport

March 15,2017 06:33

Gibbs won the Fellowship of Christian Athletes MVP for BHS's football team this year. He will graduate in May with plans to attend Texas A&M University, join the Reserve Officer Training Corps and major in biomedical sciences. “Sports is important to ...



Standing at the edge of the mat, Jake Gibbs stood facing his opponent, Carter Dorsett, a Boswell High School wrestler with a 39-0 record. Their 2017 Texas State 5A Championship match would determine who would become the 138-pound weight class champion and who would be the runner-up.
Chuck Tiemann said the contest was “tight” and “emotional.” The Class 5A state champion for the 138-pound weight class was determined by points scored.
Dorsett: 5. Gibbs: 7.
With one arm raised by the referee, Gibbs raised his other arm as well, pointing above him and raising his face to the ceiling.
“To me, it was just one of those matches where (Gibbs) just wasn’t going to be denied,” Tiemann said. “He wrestled strong from district to regionals and state, every match.”
“It just seemed like God was preparing him for this wrestling season to beat that kid who was 39-0,” said Gibbs’ friend, Shannon Stapp, who describes Gibbs’ story as one of grit and determination.
As a child, Gibbs would tottle around in his older brother’s wrestling singlets and ear guards. By 4 years old he was on the mat.
In addition to wrestling, Gibbs is also a receiver and outside linebacker on the BHS football team, a catcher and outfielder for the school’s baseball team as well as a percussionist in band.
Oh, and he’s also the student body president.
Gibbs is up early each morning, spending time with God before his 6:30 a.m. workout. He said he’s currently reading through the New Testament book of Acts.
After workout, he goes to band practice. He attends classes during the day at BHS and during wrestling season he goes to practice after school, followed by yet another workout in the evening.
Wednesday nights are reserved for youth group at the Church at Bushland; Saturdays are reserved for matches and games; Sundays are reserved for church, family and Bible study.
“And I do homework in between all of that,” Gibbs said.
It was on a Wednesday night at the age of 10 that Gibbs said he decided to follow Jesus. Since then, he says it’s been the most important component of his life, with a foundation built by a family who studies the Bible together every day.
That’s what got the three-time district champion and two-time regional champion through a serious neck injury, which put him out of football during part of his junior year.
Gibbs was benched. Walking through the halls of BHS, he realized fellow students began to see him differently.
“People are always going to change their perspective on you, but God really won’t,” said Gibbs. “That was a big thing for me to learn at that time.”
Gibbs said he was thankful for the moments on the bench where he formed relationships with the team that otherwise he might not have been able to do.
He has wrestled through broken noses, Tiemann said, but there were other times he had to sit out of football because of injuries.
Randon Johnson, BHS head baseball coach and one of the football coaches, was in the press box before a football game this past fall when he looked up and saw someone running down the road.
It was Gibbs, who wouldn’t be able to play in that game, already preparing for the wrestling season.
“A lot of kids like to participate and play and be out there to perform in front of an audience or in front of a crowd, and you just see the drive in (Gibbs) that he’s putting in the work when no one is looking and he’s doing all the things he can to prepare to be ready for that moment,” Johnson said.
Gibbs won the Fellowship of Christian Athletes MVP for BHS’s football team this year. He will graduate in May with plans to attend Texas A&M University, join the Reserve Officer Training Corps and major in biomedical sciences.
“Sports is important to me and I have a lot of fun with it, but there’s comes a point where you have to let that go and move on,” Gibbs said. “I’ve reached that point. I’m content with it and the Lord’s blessed me with a good high school experience.”
He plans to transition his title to “student” and does not plan to continue his athletic career.
“That is such a mature answer,” said Kristen Krissel, field representative for the Panhandle Fellowship of Christian Athletes.
“Here (in the Texas Panhandle), the reality is unless you get involved at a very young age and you take that time and those financial resources to invest in the game, very few kids are going to go on and play at the next level if they don’t.”
The emphasis on athletics in the panhandle is something Krissel sees as both healthy and unhealthy.
“These kids are learning every lesson that they’ll have to take to the adult world in athletics,” said Krissel. “They’re learning to be a team — well, that’s working with your coworkers. They’re learning to honor their coaches and their teammates — well, that’s scriptural and you’re going to have to do that in the workplace.”
But when an athlete either ages out, gets injured or isn’t accepted into the next level of their sport, many lose all sense of who they actually are, Krissel said.
Stapp would agree.
“I love sports and am competitive as the next guy, but I think we’re doing a little disservice to our kids making them think that’s the only important thing in life and we put it above everything else, above family, above the Lord and it would be good for a lot of high school kids to hear how (Gibbs) handled success and defeat,” Stapp said.
Gibbs’ foundation in his faith, rather than his athletics, is something Krissel said she doesn’t see in many teenage athletes. But according to the Bible, Krissel said athletes can discover how uniquely gifted they are as an individual, how they are created with purpose and that translates on and off the field, court or mat.
“If kids can begin to see their role as an athlete through scripture, it just takes on a whole new meaning — that this is an opportunity for me to glorify the Lord through the gifts he’s given me and in different seasons of my life, there’s going to be wins and losses,” Krissel said.
Gibbs said athletics is a culture and Christian athletes need to utilize that platform as a way to reach out to their teammates. For all athletes, Gibbs has one word of encouragement.
“Search for God, because it says if you seek him, you will be found,” Gibbs said. “In a moment, it’s all over. The last play, the last at bat, the last wrestling match — it all comes to an end at a moment. So we can’t be putting our identity in something that could crash instantly. So we have to search for something that’s solid.”

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