After playing defensive end and running back in his early years, James Gibson made the switch to free safety as a sophomore to join the Westfield varsity football team. The results have been fruitful for Gibson, who received first-team all-district and second-team all-region accolades. On July 21, Gibson, a rising senior, committed to play for Army.
Westfield has reached the region championship game three years in a row, two with Gibson at free safety, but each year the Bulldogs have ended their season one win shy of the state playoffs. Gibson is hoping experience gained can help propel the Bulldogs further in 2014.
Gibson recently participated in a Q&A via email with The Connection.
*Connection: You committed to Army on Monday. What made Army the right choice for you?
Gibson: Great combination of academics and football. Loved the place overall. Especially because I expected it to be prison-like when you hear military school. Beautiful place overall. Coaches made me feel comfortable and the players were comfortable around them even though they were new coaches.
*Connection: Westfield has lost in the region championship game each of the last three seasons (Gibson played in two of those games). How did it feel to finish one win shy of states multiple years in a row? How do those experiences affect your outlook on this season?
Gibson: To make it that far each year and lose is bittersweet. This season we plan on winning and advancing past that game. A lot of experience was gained in each of those games, which will help us moving forward this year.
*Connection: At what age did you start playing football? Have you always been a safety? When did you realize playing college football was a possibility for you?
Gibson: I started playing football at 7 years old. I was a defensive end at first, then running back up until my sophomore year when I made the switch FS to play on the varsity team. I realized playing college football [was a possibility] the spring of my sophomore year when a few colleges came by the school to meet me.
*Connection: What qualities, physical or mental, does it take to make a good safety?
Gibson: Mentally, in our system at Westfield playing safety takes a lot because you are an extension of the coaches on the field. Physically, you just need the right techniques and everything will be fine. It's a demanding position, but at the same time very fun.
*Connection: Do you play any other sports at Westfield?
Gibson: Yes, I ran track my first two years. I played lacrosse this past year and will play lacrosse and run track my senior year, as well.
*Connection: What is your favorite athletic moment from your first three years at Westfield?
Gibson: My favorite moment was the Lake Braddock game (2013 region semifinals). We came back and made it past Thanksgiving which we had not done the past two years. Scoring the touchdown with the [field goal] block from Chase [Koon] was amazing, as well to see all 10 guys running down to help me, especially Donteiro [Moore] at the end. That game created a buzz around the school even more than usual, which was unfortunately ruined the next Saturday.
*Connection: What is something you've learned from your first three seasons that can help you this year?
Gibson: Just play. Especially my sophomore year, I would think way too much. I've been in the system for three years now and have it down, I just need to play and help others around me to ultimately reach our goal of a state championship.
*Connection: Who is your favorite music artist? Why?
Gibson: J. Cole is my favorite artist. Parts of his music relate to me and he tells a story about his life and all he's been through to get to where he is now. I always listen to him on game day.
*Connection: What is your favorite movie?
Gibson: Tie between ‘Kevin Hart: Let Me Explain’ and the James Bond movies.
*Connection: Do you play video games? If so, which one is your favorite?
Gibson: Yes, NCAA is my favorite.
*Connection: What is your favorite hobby outside of football?
Gibson: Playing sports with my friends.
*Connection: What location is the farthest you have traveled from the Washington, D.C. metro area?
Gibson: Liberia. I go every year to visit my dad and other family.
*Connection: Are you a pro sports fan? If so, who are your favorite teams?
Gibson: Yes: Pittsburgh Steelers and Miami Heat.