Carroll County’s girls’ basketball program has a long and proud tradition of outstanding teams, players and coaches. One of the best to ever suit up for the Lady Cavaliers was post player Erin Gibson, who went on to enjoy a successful basketball career at Virginia Tech.
Averaging 18.1 points, 12.3 rebounds, 2.5 blocks and 2 steals per game during her high school career, Gibson was voted the Group AA State Player of the Year by the Associated Press and the Virginia High School Coaches Association her senior year. She was also named Player of the Year in Region IV, the Southwest District and by the Roanoke Times her senior season.
From 2001-2005, she continued to enjoy success on the hardwood for the Hokies. She still ranks among the program’s all-time leaders in many categories, including fifth in blocked shots (122), seventh in games played (123), eighth in minutes played (3,263), and she was the 14th player in school history to reach the 1,000 career points milestone.
But as successful as Gibson was in the basketball gym, she was equally impressive in the classroom. Now the director of the University Physical Therapy clinic in Christiansburg, Gibson was a Big East Academic All Star all three seasons she played in the conference before Virginia Tech joined the ACC prior to her senior season. During her senior year, she was selected by ESPN The Magazine as an Academic All-American.
What year did you graduate from Carroll County? I graduated from Carroll County High School in 2001.
When did you graduate from Virginia Tech? I graduated from Virginia Tech May, 2005 with a Bachelor of Science degree in Human Nutrition, Food, and Exercise. I graduated from Virginia Commonwealth University-Medical College of Virginia in May, 2008 with a Doctorate of Physical Therapy.
Family members: Tonyia Gibson (mother), Greg Gibson (father), Reggie Gibson (brother), Gordan Gibson (brother), James Gibson (brother), Zac Annen (brother), Teresa Gibson (sister-in-law), Logan Gibson (nephew).
Current Occupation: I am presently the director of the University Physical Therapy clinic in Christiansburg, VA. I am also working with injured athletes in the sports medicine department at Virginia Tech.
What is your favorite memory in athletics at Carroll County? It’s really hard to just have one favorite memory. I believe it’s a culmination of moments that added up to a wonderful experience. It was the speeches we got before and after a game to make us better. It was the rituals that we did before we ran out to the court or the field. It was the superstitions that I had, and that I performed because I thought that helped us win if I did it every single time. It was the bus rides to and from the games. I played with some amazing people who made me better every practice/game. I had some talented coaches that spent hours making sure that I developed my skills. All of these are my favorite memories while in high school.
What is your favorite memory in athletics at Virginia Tech? Well, it’s just like high school; it’s just not one memory. It’s my very first practice as a freshman, feeling like I wasn’t going to be able to walk for 2 weeks…but did. It’s the 3 hour practices and how exhausted I felt, but yet thought how awesome it was to feel this way. It was the traveling to different states and countries that I had the opportunity to do that I wouldn’t have experienced if I were not at Tech. It’s the rituals that we performed every game because we wouldn’t have won without doing them. It was the nervousness that I got when I played in my first collegiate game. It was the excitement I felt when I finally had a play drawn up for me to shoot a 3 in my final game at Virginia Tech. I could go on for hours about the memories I have.
What was it like changing conferences when Virginia Tech began playing in the ACC your senior year after having played in the Big East your entire career? The ACC and Big East conferences are both great basketball conferences. I was just lucky to play in both of them. There was great post play in both conferences, but the girls that you were use to guarding were different. You had to learn new tendencies for the girls of the ACC; being in the Big East those 3 years I started to learn each team’s player’s strengths and weaknesses.
Who was the toughest player you ever had to guard and why? I would say anyone from UCONN’s post position. They were very well coached. They could play you with their back to the basket or take you off the dribble. They could not only play offensive, but they were good defenders. They were all very disciplined players.
Being the competitor you are, how much did it hurt you not being able to play in the Group AA State Quarterfinals your junior season at Carroll? We are told that Coach Mayo joked he was going to make everybody get a flu shot the next season. I felt like I disappointed my teammates. I just remember laying on my mom and dad’s bed barely able to move and thinking… “This is not happening.” I tried everything possible to recoup enough to play (medicine, fluids, IV’s, etc); however, I ended up being admitted to the hospital. Even though we didn’t win that game, my teammates played their hearts out.
What was it like to win so many prestigious honors at Carroll County, including Group AA Player of the Year by the Associated Press, Virginia High School Coaches Association and The Roanoke Times’ Timesland Player of the Year? I really was very honored with every award that I received. I didn’t play to get the honors; I played because I enjoyed the fellowship, friendship, and honor of competing. I played hard not to win awards, but to honor my parents’, family’s, and coaches’ time, the time they spent making me better. The honors were really just a secondary bonus.
What is the most embarrassing thing that ever happened to you on the basketball court? I believe the most embarrassing thing to happen to me was when I tripped over my own shoe laces running out to play Galax at home (I believe my senior year). I had just safely made it all the way down the gym’s stairs from our locker room, when I fell face down on the floor under Galax’s warm up basket. My big shoes had long shoe laces that got caught on my toe, and down I went. I have never gotten up quicker in my life. We won that game despite my embarrassing fall.
Did you ever play Coach Mayo one-on-one, and if so, who won? I’m sure I played coach several times one-on-one…I believe I had a 95% winning percentage. LOL. Just Kidding. It was pretty hard to win against him I must say, if I did win. I can’t really remember that far back, but I know he didn’t give me any mercy that’s for sure.
Coach Mayo said you used to apologize to opponents when you knocked them down. Would you call yourself a gentle giant? I believe I was definitely called that a few times. I would even stop and help the opponents up at times. I tried to stop doing that pretty quickly in college, though, because Bonnie Henrickson use to make me run a lot if I helped people up or said sorry. I might have had to a few times with Coach Mayo, I can’t remember. They wanted me to be tough and not apologize for playing hard…it was just so hard not to stop and pick someone up when you knock them down. My parents taught me to be kind to others; knocking someone down, intentional or not, I thought went against that. I believe by the end of my college career I wasn’t as gentle.
You were a member of the Big East Academic All-Star Team all three years the Hokies were in the conference. We are told you used to bring a flashlight on the bus to study when traveling for Carroll County road games. How important were academics to you, and what advice would you give to young student athletes about balancing athletics and academics? Academics were just as important to me as my athletic career. I really had to work hard to achieve good grades, and I was determined to not let a long bus or car ride home from a game stop me from studying; thus the flashlight was needed. My athletic career helped fund the education that I needed to become the professional that I am today. I valued both equally. I would say to all my young athletes, enjoy your sport, but don’t forget about your future. Education will provide a sustainable future, even when your sport ends.
Is it true you ran a 6-minute mile as a junior in high school, could outlift most of the guys in the weight room, and led an intramurals team your senior year against all the boys’ team at CCHS? It’s funny how these questions are making me feel older, because I really have to think back to remember if these were all true. I can tell you I was pretty fast for a big girl. Even in college I would come in second during our preseason run (in front of all the guards). I can also say that I was pretty strong; don’t ask me my maxes. I can’t remember about our intramural team, but I know I loved to compete against the guys! We had some great athletes to compete against; they only made me better.
What was it like playing at the highest level in women’s college basketball? This might sound generic; however, it was like a dream come true/a goal come to reality. I knew that I wanted to play at Virginia Tech when I was in 6th grade when I went there to a basketball camp. Shooting at a basket in Cassell Coliseum helped develop a goal. From 6th grade on, I worked very hard to make my goal come true. With the assistance from my two wonderfully devoted parents, I got there. I also had amazing coaches, teammates, and family to assist along the way. I appreciated the opportunity that was given to me, and I really hope that I made my hometown proud.
What do you think makes Carroll County’s girls’ basketball program so successful? I know what led to our success in our program during my tenure at Carroll County: recreation department ball, open gyms, dedicated parents, AAU programs, coaches who know the game. I feel that all of the elements have continued today leading to the success of our lady’s program.
Living in the heart of the River Ridge District now, how do you think the Lady Cavaliers will fare against in the new district? I believe that it will be an adjustment, but I feel like it would be an adjustment no matter what district they transferred to. They will have to be patient and learn each schools’ tendencies, strengths, and weaknesses. I believe that with the dedication that they have shown in the program with the players, coaches, support staff, and parents they can come in and make an immediate impact.