The Colgate Scene
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Mighty Megan in the middle
All-Patriot League hoopster Megan Gibbons '99 is the Red Raiders' leading scorer and rebounder and she earns every point and carom.
Megan Gibbons is in the thick of things.
The leading scorer on the women's basketball team is posting up, absorbing a beating and heading for the hoop.
An all-Patriot League player last season, Gibbons is back for more and she's delivering. She is a tri-captain with fellow seniors Kelty Weeks and Kristin Donahoe and is averaging a double double -- 11.1 rebounds and 13.2 points -- per game.
More than leadership, more than statistics, what leaves a lasting impression is Megan Gibbons' will and the sheer toughness she displays no matter what point in the game or where in the season.
"There always seemed to be a hoop around wherever we were," says Gibbons. "It was a good way to make friends." That was important for an Army kid whose family was always on the move. Italy, Virginia, North Carolina, Detroit, Michigan's Upper Peninsula, Panama, Massachusetts. In fact, Gibbons' stay at Colgate marks the longest she has ever lived in one spot, and the game she learned as a girl from her father was once again a good introduction to a new way of life.
"I remember the first day of pickup games my freshman year. I was scared and nervous but basketball was critical to being happy here right off the bat."
Megan Gibbons arrived at Colgate with a wealth of experience to go with her inside game. Her recollections of just one assignment are telling.
"We arrived in Panama shortly after the whole Just Cause episode. The country was waiting for the U.S. to make life better, and when it was obvious that wasn't going to happen, people got really angry. There were numerous demonstrations and displays of discontent. There is only one main road that connects the two sides of the isthmus and people would block it with buses so nobody could get through for days. The worst thing to happen while we were there was an MP was shot and killed driving across the road. We lived on the Atlantic side of the isthmus, which I think was prettier, near the city of Colon. You could smell the city before you got to it. It was the picture of Third World poverty and these were all eye-opening experiences for me as a 13-year-old."
Off the bench
As a sophomore Gibbons became a starter on a team that struggled under the weight of high expectations.
"Basically it was a rotten year. I was starting and there was more pressure on me to perform offensively and be a team leader, too," says Gibbons. "I didn't always handle it well but I learned a lot and took that into my junior year."
Last season got off to a great start. The early wins masked some problems, though, and the team didn't gel on the court and it all showed up in a quick exit from the league tournament.
"We ended up with a rift we couldn't remedy," says Gibbons, who was nonetheless named a first-team league all-star.
This year the team is young, new players have contributed right away and the senior leadership is strong. Gibbons sees potential. She also knows her job description.
"I'm expected to post up hard and use my spin dribble. I'm kind of small, actually, but I'm supposed to body up, work my way around and get to the hole, finish the play."
Even with evidence to the contrary, Gibbons says the games are easy -- it is the practices that grind away.
"There are days when you don't want to be knocked over but you push through it."
To complement her inside game, Gibbons has worked to hit the 15- to 17-foot jumper consistently. Even with the increase in her offense, rebounding remains her forté and it is underneath the basket Gibbons' doggedness is most apparent. She keeps opponents off the boards, puts back misses or starts the ball the other way.
As a captain and senior, Gibbons' leadership is nearly as important as her scoring and rebounding. First, her work ethic sets an example. She is focused and ready to play, whether in games or at practice. She also feels it is her job to "pick people up if they are frustrated and calm them down if they are wired." It all comes naturally now.
"I love to compete and I love being a member of a team," says Gibbons. "There is something special in a group of 15 people all trying to attain a goal.
"Basketball has given me an opportunity to be here and also to meet great people."
Whether hanging out in hotels on the road or filling time during holiday breaks on campus, the game has been a connection to people for Gibbons and it has taught her well -- win or lose.
"You learn a lot about yourself and others from the tough times. I've also been forced to learn how to lead. That's huge. Being a leader isn't easy by any stretch.
"I've learned how to motivate. I've learned to stand up for what I believe in and support those beliefs when others don't agree. I've learned to voice my opinion in a positive way and I've learned that not agreeing is okay some times."
Gibbons worked for Boston's Children Services in the Chinatown After School Program on a Manzi Fellowship (created by Jim Manzi '73 to provide students with an opportunity to perform community service) last summer and in addition to tutoring and constantly trying to mentor, she took children on field trips around the city.
"It was so special to be there when they were seeing all these places for the first time."
There was also a fair amount of conflict resolution.
"We had a couple kids who were real handfuls."
With a love of studies and reading and her leadership skills proven, Gibbons, who is majoring in English and Spanish, says simply, "I could see myself teaching."
Megan Gibbons. Yes! JH
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