It is common for high school athletes to play multiple sports during their four-year career.
Marquette women’s soccer first-year forward Kate Gibson is no different, as she was a tri-sport athlete at St. Teresa Academy in Gibson’s home town of Kansas City, Missouri.
But when it came time to pick which sport she would stick with at the collegiate level, Gibson chose soccer over basketball and softball.
“Soccer was always what I wanted to do, I had always wanted to play in college. I loved playing sports and being busy over the years,” Gibson said. “They all add different things and I think that helped with soccer, having arm strength for basketball and softball, where as I am not really going to get that in soccer practice.”
Gibson said she has played soccer for her entire life.
St. Teresa girls soccer head coach Emily Welch said Gibson’s best stretch as a tri-sport athlete was her being an ultimate teammate.
“She played three team sports and was a leader on each of the teams,” Welch said. “Two of the sports struggled at times to be consistently competitive, but I think it made her stronger mentally as well. It would have been easy to quit or get down during those seasons but I never saw that from her.”
Additionally, Welch described Gibson as a player who like to have fun, and as a hardworking leader.
“She’s been a verbal and physical leader since her sophomore year, I’d say. She is always the first to practice and one of the last to leave, she knows the balance of working hard and being productive on the field with having fun. (She) has a great sense of humor,” Welch said.
Gibson earned multiple accolades during her senior season including the region’s offensive player of the year and All-State First Team Honors.
Welch said if Gibson was able to have a junior season, which was canceled due to COVID-19, she would have ended her high school career with more awards.
Fast forward a few months to this past August, when Gibson began her career with the Golden Eagles.
The 5-foot-8 forward earned her first collegiate start Sept. 2 at Brigham Young University where she recorded a shot in 28 minutes of action.
Gibson scored her first collegiate goal Sept. 17 in the 106th minute to lift Marquette to a 1-0 double overtime win over over North Dakota State. She also posted a career-best six shots in the match.
“In that situation, it was Elsi Twombly who really took the ball,” Gibson said. “She really did all the work, I just timed my run off of her.”
This feat earned Gibson BIG EAST Freshman of the Week honors for the week of Sept. 20.
Welch said she was not surprised to see Gibson earn this award.
“I’ve kept up with how Marquette’s season is going and I’ve watched a few games. She’s a contributing factor every time she comes into a game,” Welch said.
Being a first-year student-athlete, it takes time for one to get adjusted and acclimated to playing at the collegiate level, especially at the Division I level.
This has been no different for Gibson.
“At first the transition was a bit rough, not bad but just so different. I knew how much higher of a level college soccer was but you do not really realize until you are physically in that position,” Gibson said. “… When you come here you kind of have to work back up that chain and reprove yourself. I think that’s a great thing because it makes you work that much harder.”
Welch said Gibson’s adjustment seem natural for her based on the way she plays with confidence when she watches a game or a highlight on social media.
“She’s adjusted very well. She plays with confidence and isn’t timid on the field which isn’t always easy as a first-year player,” Welch said. “The transition from playing at the high school level to the collegiate level has seemed natural for her.”
Gibson mentioned upper-level teammates like graduate student defender Kylie Sprecher have helped with the transition for not just herself but also the other first-year players on the team.
“She really came to all the first-years and talked to us before we even got here and individually reaches out to us all the time. Even now, being like very well into our season, she still is very active reaching out and helping us,” Gibson said. “She is just very nice about those things and has definitely helped me. She’s really helped me shift into the college soccer life.”
With the Golden Eagles still on the verge of making the BIG EAST Tournament for the first time since 2017, Gibson said she is hopeful of her team’s chances of making the big dance with the right preparation and mindset heading into Thursday’s regular season finale against DePaul.
“What has been seen in the BIG EAST for so long is that anything can happen, upsets are very common in this conference. I think we have everything that it takes to beat any team in this league, it’s just if we decide that day we are able to do that and we really get in that mindset,” Gibson said. “At the end of the day, it’s a total mental thing that we have to put ourselves together. It is a total team sport, we together collectively have to decide to put our bodies on the line for this game.”*
This article was written by Kelly Reilly. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @Kellyreillyyy.