Page 35 - Salem Magazine Spring 2011
P. 35

   the ODAC standings in desperate need of some stability.
He provided that steadying influence very quickly by taking the team from 10th place to 4th at the ODAC Championships in just his second year as a head coach. That season, he also became the first Roanoke tennis coach to ever be named conference coach of the year. But it’s a benchmark established by his players off the court that makes him the proudest.
“In my 13 years at
Roanoke, we have a 100
percent graduation rate
for our senior players and
that’s by far my biggest accomplishment,” he says.
“I try to make tennis like
a hobby for them because with their class schedules you don’t want this to seem like a job. Ultimately they are here to get an education and not play tennis.”
Education is a huge priority for Gibson even though he never attended a four- year college. By his own admission, he was a teenager who never reached his full potential as a student, and a young man who athletically found the non-stop action in tennis much more satisfying than his original love, baseball.
“I was a very skinny, hyper kid growing up and my older brother Mike really introduced tennis to me,” he says. “I thought I could be good at it immediately, but I quickly found out there was a real technical side to it.”
His brother, who was coaching at William Byrd at the time, taught him the basics of the game and provided him with a great deal of encouragement and positive energy. Gibson also gleaned a lot of information by simply watching the game on TV back in the 1980s when McEnroe, Borg and Connors made the sport must-see entertainment.
“I would watch those guys on TV and then go out and hit balls off of the back wall at the Kroger store at Spartan Square shopping center,” he says. “I would put a piece of tape on the wall where the net should be and just hit balls all day long. In fact, I hit a bunch of them on the roof, and thankfully, the manager was always kind enough to get them down for me.”
That dark brick wall got him good enough to make the varsity tennis team at Salem high school as a freshman. With the help of his coach, Dave Petersen, he moved up the ranks and was the team’s third ranked singles player his senior year. That team made it to the state finals, and Gibson was the only player to win his singles match in the championship loss to James Monroe.
After graduation and a four year stint in the Navy, that included a tour of duty in Desert Storm, Gibson returned to Salem to begin his formal training to become a firefighter. During that time, he also assisted his brother Mike, serving as an assistant coach of the Salem boys’ tennis team. The two proved to be a dynamic duo as their teams compiled a 42-9 record and recorded a state runner-up finish in their four seasons together, before Scott was hired by the Maroons.
Besides putting out fires in Salem and on the courts in the ODAC, Gibson also serves as the tennis coordinator for both the Salem and Roanoke County Parks and Recreation departments. Each summer and fall he organizes youth tennis camps and lines up instructors to teach over 250 youth and adults who take part in classes and private lessons.
“When summer arrives, I really have no life,” he says.
That may be so, but he’s definitely found a way to breathe new life into a college tennis program and into those he attends to as a public servant in Salem.
“You have to always expect the unexpected and to me that is the intriguing part of the job,” says Gibson. “Plus, people call us when they are having a bad day and if you can do something to give them some hope, it makes the job worthwhile and really makes you feel good.”
Kind of like serving an ace off of the brick wall at Kroger.
- MS
Gibson also oversees the tennis programs for the Rec. Departments in Salem and Roanoke County
Salem Magazine Spring Issue 2011 35
 Your Salem

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