Brittney Gibbs performed the last triple jump of her SIUE track career at the NCAA West Preliminary weeks after completing graduate school with a 4.0 GPA. Gibbs ranked 42nd at the competition on Saturday, May 25 in Sacramento, California with her best jump of the day at 39 feet, 3.25 inches.
In order to compete at the preliminary, Gibbs had to rank within the top 48 in her region. Gibbs said she solidified going to California after she reached 41-4.5, the top triple jump in the Ohio Valley Conference at the time, during April’s Memphis Invitational.
She then placed first in the triple jump at the OVC Championships May 11 with a mark of 41-0.25.
“I had an open mind, that mentality like ‘This is it, Brittney, last one, best one, so you just have to put it all out there,’ which is exactly what I did,” Gibbs said. “My last jump — my fourth jump — I jumped 41 feet in the pouring rain. I still don’t know how I did it, but at that moment I basically already knew ‘All right, this is yours, you need to go deep, but the medal is basically yours.’”
Gibbs did not advance to the NCAA Outdoor Track and Field Championships as she did not place within the top 12 Saturday in California. However, she said she cannot be upset about it, as she had many highlights within her track career.
“For the most part right now, it’s kind of just bittersweet, reflecting on everything that I’ve done, and I really can’t be mad at how my career ended at all,” Gibbs said.
Gibbs began her track career in her hometown of Toronto. She joined track her senior year of high school after years of gymnastics. According to Gibbs, the thought of studying in the U.S. had not crossed her mind until her coach encouraged her to seek opportunities outside Canada.
“My senior year of high school, I joined the track club, and we had a New Balance National Meet, which is in March in New York and I ended up winning the meet,” Gibbs said. “That’s when I started getting calls from U.S. schools and my coach was like, ‘Brittney, you should really think about going to school in the states.’”
Eventually, Gibbs decided to come to SIUE in 2014. Throughout her time here, she has been recognized for both academic and athletic successes. Gibbs has made the dean’s list every semester, making her a multiple-time OVC Academic Medal of Honor recipient, as well as other honors.
Gibbs said she was very proud to receive the 2019 Female Cougar Captain Award. This award goes to one female athlete among all the teams at SIUE who exemplifies leadership, love for their sport, has been awarded their varsity jacket and who has above a 3.0 GPA.
Gibbs said being recognized by both her teammates and other teams was a rewarding experience.
“I was voted upon by my teammates, so that made me feel good about myself in a way, like they notice what I’m doing, my leadership skills and everything that I do to help them and help the program,” Gibbs said. “So then it was myself against all the other female recipients from other sports. It just felt great knowing that it’s not just my team that sees what I do but other sports as well.”
According to Gibbs’ jumping coach Doug McDannald, her drive and ability to succeed in all areas at SIUE sets her apart from other athletes.
“I think that just really speaks to the character that Brittney has. It’s definitely not something that one, everybody wants to try to do, and two, that they’re actually capable of doing,” McDannald said. “She’s got the drive to succeed in whatever it is she seeks out to do, she has the capability to do it, and she believes in herself. The combination of those things makes her an unstoppable force.”
Gibbs and senior distance runner Ben Scamihorn were the only two graduate students on the team. He said this reflects on their personalities and makes their feats more impressive.
“Being successful in graduate school and track, I think that’s like a test to just the kind of people we are: natural leaders and hard-working, successful and organized, which I think transitions into being a captain and being a good leader,” Scamihorn said.
Off the track, Gibbs showed her leadership as the president of the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee, where she met sophomore softball outfielder Micah Arps. Both Arps and Gibbs said they have a sister-like relationship, and Arps said being close with somebody outside her team has its benefits.
“Honestly, she did an amazing job of helping me feel welcome at SIUE as an athlete because, although I did have my own teammates and they’re supposed to be there for me, it was nice to have somebody who was on a different team and who actually has been through the program longer than anybody that I knew to actually take me under their wing and show me the ropes of being an SIUE athlete,” Arps said.
Now that her last season is over, Gibbs plans to move back to Canada and will begin adjusting to life without competing.
“I’ve been an athlete literally all my life, since birth, so it’s going to be a different transition for me, obviously weird, but my body will definitely thank me,” Gibbs said.
For more information on Gibbs, visit her biography on the SIUE athletic website.