Success more than just wins for Gibson

Published 9:03 pm Tuesday, August 24, 2010

In 2009, the Escambia Academy Cougars fought through a tough schedule and made it to the semifinal of the AISA state playoffs.

Their 7-6 record was an impressive bounce back after going 0-11 in 2008 with a depleted roster.

It also helped earn their head coach, Heath Gibson, the honor of being named the AISA Class 2A Coach of the Year.

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For Gibson, the honor was one that not only humbled him, but made him want to achieve another honor, a state championship.

With this year’s team, ranked No. 9 in the state and already 1-0 after a 39-0 victory over Sparta that goal tory over Sparta that goal could become a reality with the right season.

Gibson said by winning the award, he thinks he and his team are striving for perfection.

“Being named Coach of the Year, I feel there is more effort this year to push them to perfection,” Gibson said. “We always want to be better, and I feel this team should be better because of the experience they have on both sides of the ball.”

Being perfect is a hard thing to do on an athletic field with only a handful of teams accomplishing that each year.

Gibson said he tells his players that it being perfect is more than just about football, but about life.

“We talk about striving for perfection at practice,” Gibson said. “I tell them it starts with wanting to achieve that goal. It has to happen on the football field, in practice, by keeping our field house and school clean and being leaders in our community. It’s about not leaving any stone unturned. I try to teach them to live right, show them Christian values. My coaches and I try to teach them how their parents would. It’s like an extended family.”

When it comes to the football field, Gibson wants his team to give everything they have to be as good as they could be.

Gibson said winning is not a complete measure of success, but has to include the effort that is given.

“What matters to me is how hard our kids play every snap of every game,” Gibson said. “Wins and losses don’t always measure successes. A bad break here and there can be the difference in a ballgame, but if my players give me 110 percent every game, I can live with end result, even if it’s a loss.”

As for his coaching staff, Gibson wants them to also show the Cougars’ players the right path to follow.

Gibson said his coaches are committed to the team, and making sure each player is the best he can be.

“The biggest thing about my coaching staff is they are committed to winning, and doing what’s best for these kids,” Gibson said. “They believe in being positive role models and leading the players. This is the largest staff I have ever had here, and by far they are the strongest.”

With one win under his belt for the 2010 season, Gibson looks to keep the winning trend going with a light at the end of the tunnel being a championship and maybe a another Coach of the Year award.

Escambia Academy Cougars head coach Heath Gibson wants his team to give a strong effort every snap in order to be successful. | Photo by Adam Prestridge