Champion alum’s hard work pays off

In high school, Todd Gibson knew how to shape his career path.

He also knew how to be on his best behavior.

“You don’t get away with a whole lot when you’re dad is down the hallway in his classroom,” said Gibson, whose parents, John and Sandy were both teachers at Champion. “Growing up in the same school district it can be interesting at times.”

His father taught secondary social studies and coached football after a legendary playing career at Thiel College.

“That’s what I wanted to be,” Gibson said. “He is in the sports hall of fame at Thiel. His name is very prominent around Greenville (Pa.).”

Gibson followed in his father’s footsteps when he played college football at Grove City, where he was a wide receiver from 1998 to 2001. Gibson led the team in receiving yards as a senior and he graduated with a degree in political science.

Now, he’s the head track and field coach, assistant football coach, strength and conditioning coordinator and full-time professor at Grove City.

“It may seem like a drastic path,” Gibson said. “But in my mind, it was logical. It’s all kind of related. I get to combine all of my interests.”

It’s a hectic schedule, for sure, but it’s just what he’s used to. After teaching for a few years in Youngstown, Gibson worked toward an education degree from Youngstown State while coaching football and junior varsity basketball at Champion.

After marrying his wife, Richelle, and moving to Cranberry Township, Pa., Gibson obtained his master’s degree in exercise science from California University of Pennsylvania, while juggling his responsibilities at Grove City.

“There were some long nights, for sure, but I knew the end result would make me a more viable person,” he said. “It took some hustling for a couple years but I got it done. A lot of work, yeah, but you knew like most things if you stuck to it, it would pay off.”

The spring is his busiest time of year. Days usually begin at 6:30 a.m. with football conditioning. Then, there’s a few morning classes to instruct before track practice in the afternoon. Sometimes, there’s light football practice right after, too.

“Luckily, I don’t have very far to walk,” he said, laughing.

Gibson played for head football coach Chris Smith, who is still leading the Wolverines. As a student-athlete, Gibson helped Grove City to a 19-21 record. As an assistant coach, the Wolverines have gone 35-45.

Gibson became the head men’s and women’s track and field coach in 2011. This past year, both squads won a Presidents Athletic Conference Quad Meet and finished third (women’s) and fourth (men’s) in the final conference standings.

“We feel that we should grow the track program to being the top program in the conference each year and to compete at a national level,” Gibson said. “I’m very proud to get to work (at Grove City) and to give back to my alma mater, while sharing my pride with the student-athletes.”

Gibson and his staff recruit the entire country for participants. Currently, 15 states and two countries are represented on the track and field teams. Joey Siefert (Mathews), Ethan Witmer (South Range), Ellie Stoffer (South Range) and Caroline Kimpel (Columbiana) are local runners and throwers.

There were five football players from the Mahoning Valley on the 2012 roster.

Gibson has numerous certifications and credentials from the National Strength and Conditioning Association and National Association of Sports Medicine.