For Immediate Release
Contact: Emily Feeney (423) 439-5612
As if playing on a division one women's basketball team, earning a college degree at an academically challenging school, as well as leading a personal life with friends and family isn't enough, Candace Gibson still has one responsibility above the rest. A mother to son Javon, Gibson hails as the only Lady Bucs basketball player to add the role of mother to her daily priority list.
Thus far in 2004-05, Gibson ranks as the Lady Bucs block leader with 37 for the year, while her 7.3 rebounds per game are a team-second best and her 7.6 points per game ranks third on the squad. Gibson has started 21 games this season for the Bucs, including starts against Atlantic-10-powerhouse Temple, a then undefeated Charlotte 49'ers team as well as Mississippi State from the Southeastern Conference in late December. Hitting career-best marks in '04-'05, including an 18 point showing versus Georgia Southern, 11 rebounds versus Furman, and four blocks on three different occasions this season, Gibson plays an important role for the Lady Bucs success.
Gibson hails from Warner Robins, Ga. where she was one of six Gibson children. The first child to earn any type of academic or athletic scholarship, Candace earned four letters at Warner Robins High School competing for coach Tom Mobley, while also being honored with a place on the Georgia Dream Team during her high school career. Gibson garnered all-county player of the year honors following her junior and senior years at Warner Robins and began to prepare herself for a college career at East Tennessee State.
With each step on the court Gibson gives her all. She fights underneath the basket for offensive and defensive rebounds, grabs the loose ball and hits a tough lay-up with three defenders aiming for the block, and at one point in her collegiate basketball career - she thought it was all over.
After a freshman campaign at ETSU with 28 appearances, averaging 3.9 points per game, and 2.7 rebounds per game, Gibson began to look forward to her sophomore year ahead. Learning she was pregnant with Javon in November 2002 just before her sophomore season began, Gibson was faced with a tough task, telling Lady Bucs head coach Karen Kemp the news.
"Being a member of this basketball team means the world to me. Besides God, my family and Javon, basketball is my life," Gibson said. "When I told coach Kemp I was pregnant, she didn't have to give me a second chance, a second chance to play or the opportunity to continue school. That second chance has given me the ability to provide a better life for my son, and I am so thankful for that."
So Candace began to prepare for the road ahead. Continuing school, preparing for a newborn, and staying an important member of the Lady Bucs team. Gibson traveled to away games, helped out with practice, gave advice to players and made sure she would be ready to return to the team the following season.
Gibson's parents have been the core of her support system throughout her life. "Before Javon, my father was the biggest inspiration in my life. My father has made it through many obstacles in his life, but he always found time for our family," Gibson said. "When I have a problem, a worry or just need advice, my father is the one person I can depend on to always be there for me."
After the birth of Javon in 2003, Gibson began to train and prepare herself to rejoin the women's basketball team full time. Continuing a full class load so she would be academically able to participate, she quickly found the need to prioritize her life. "Javon will always be my first priority. I am so thankful to have basketball still play such a large role in my life, but after the birth of my son, I know what is most important," Gibson said.
A typical day for Gibson begins at 6:30 a.m. when she shuts off the alarm and begins to prepare herself for the busy day ahead. After getting all of Javon's necessities together, Candace makes breakfast and at 7:50 a.m. takes Javon to daycare. A full morning of class from 8:15 a.m.-12:35 p.m., Gibson heads straight home, grabs lunch, does some laundry and cleans the house before picking Javon up from daycare at 2:00 p.m. By 2:30 Gibson is in the locker room preparing herself for afternoon practice. After she has all of her practice gear on, a quick trip to the training room and Gibson hits the court from 4:00 p.m. - 6:45 p.m. Home for dinner, spending some quality time with Javon and taking care of the house once more, Gibson puts Javon to bed around 9:00 p.m. and then begins her homework for the following day. Finally, when Gibson feels she is prepared for the next day, she heads to bed.
A physical education major, Gibson has big plans for her post-basketball and post-graduate career. "After college I would like to move back to Georgia and teach physical education either at the middle or high school level," she said. "Ten years down the road, I could really see myself raising my family, teaching and coaching basketball."
With the departure of senior Tiffani Mayes (Sumter, S.C.) following the conclusion of this season, Gibson and fellow junior B.J. Banjo (Baltimore, Md.) take rank as the two senior leaders for the Lady Bucs team. Gibson knows how important the role she and Banjo will play to the younger members of the squad, "Knowing that next year will be my last year of basketball, both at ETSU and probably my career, I am very excited and willing to take on the challenge of being a leader on this team."
Lady Bucs head coach Kemp has also played a very important role in the support system for Candace. Giving her the opportunity to continue to compete on the court and receive an education from ETSU gave Gibson another reason to succeed. "Candace is an outstanding young lady who is really committed to her academic and athletic success. She has had a great year both on and off the court, and can handle not only the demands of class, the demands of a division one athlete, but also those of raising a young son," Kemp said. "This is a schedule that I'm not sure how she handles, but she really has her life under control. Having the support of her coaches, her teammates and her family have made what some would have thought to be an impossible situation, be one that has brought her happiness and success in her life both on and off the basketball court."
While her class schedule and responsibilities with practice, travel and game preparation take up the majority of her day, Gibson will be the first to tell you her son is the bright spot. "Being a mother means the world to me, Javon is my inspiration and I would not change one thing about my life," Gibson said. "I feel so blessed with all my opportunities; having my son, getting my education, while being able to continue basketball at ETSU."
So the final question, will Javon grow up to be an NBA All-Star? "No! He is going to be an NFL All-Star!"