By David Fong
TROY — To be the best, it helps to be coached by the best.
Just ask the best.
“Coach ‘Gibbs’ helps me out a lot with everything I’m doing right now,” Troy junior-to-be Lenea Browder said of the Troy track and field team’s throwing coach, Aaron Gibbons. “He’s always taking video and pointing out things I need to work on. He’s very helpful, not just as a coach, but also because he’s so encouraging. He’s just a great coach.”
Browder should know better than any of the hundreds of athletes Gibbons — who also serves as the Troy High School strength and conditioning coach — has worked with the past six years. Last month at the state track and field meet, Browder won a Division I state title in the discus and placed second in the state in the shot put, all under Gibbons’ watchful eye.
For the work he does specifically with the throwers on the track and field team — and in general with all of Troy’s athletic programs — Gibbons has been named the Troy Daily News Girls Coach of the Year for the 2017-18 school year. It’s the first time an assistant coach has ever won the honor in the brief history of the awards.
Ask just about any head coach at Troy, however, and they’ll quickly point to Gibbons as one of the driving forces behind their program.
“He pays so much attention to detail,” Troy girls track and field head coach Kurt Snyder said. “At the end of practice every day, the throwers — along with the pole vaulters — are the last group to leave. He takes the time not only to work with the top kids, but he wants to make sure all of the kids are learning. Then, after he gets done with practice, he goes up to the weightroom and puts in extra time up there.”
Gibbons, who has been at the school for just six years, has had an incredible rate of success working with Troy’s shot put and discus throwers in such a short amount of time. In those six years, two boys throwers — Alex Dalton and Travis Hall — have made it to the state meet, while a trio of girls throwers, Kelsey Walters, Alaura Holycross and Browder, all of have made it to state two times apiece.
Walters was a state placer and held the school record in the shot put until Browder came along. She currently is a thrower at Ball State University. Holycross will throw at Tiffin University this coming year. Browder still has two more years remaining to attempt to add to her already impressive legacy. She’s already being looked at by many of the top college track and field programs in the nation.
Troy’s throwers are quick to give Gibbons credit for the work he puts in with them on a regular basis. They also say they can’t imagine where they would be without him.
“He’s a great coach,” Holycross said. “You’ll see throwers at other schools that have a lot of potential, but they don’t have as good a coach as we do. He’s always putting in the extra time to help out.”
Of course, that tells only part of the story of Gibbons’ impact. When he’s not working with Troy’s throwers, he’s overseeing Troy’s overall strength and conditioning programs. Troy football coach Matt Burgbacher said Gibbons has been a huge part of his team’s success the past two seasons as the Trojans have won back-to-back Greater Western Ohio Conference American North Division titles and made the Division II playoffs each of the past two seasons.
“What Coach Gibbons does with all of our student-athletes here at Troy is amazing,” Burgbacher said. “He is in there six days a week; the time he puts in for our kids is why we are so successful. The planning, implementation and post-workouts — he puts in the work in for all of our athletes to be successful.
“There is no better person for our athletics program than Gibby. He cares about every kid that walks into that weightroom and will push them beyond the expectations they have for themselves. Every year, he is our MVP.”
Contact David Fong at firstname.lastname@example.org; follow him on Twitter @thefong