Cayman Prep graduate Trevor Gibbs has overcome culture shock, homesickness, a heavy academic load, toe-numbing cold and a broken shin to finally excel abroad in the sport he loves.
The 18-year-old midfielder recently wrapped up a memorable season at the Hotchkiss School in Lakeview, Connecticut. His play and attitude earned him the ‘W. David Coughlin Award’ for being the most improved player while showing exceptional sportsmanship.
‘It was an up-and-down season because we had a lot of players out with injuries,’ said Gibbs, ‘but we won three games against our biggest rivals, so that helped make it a good season.’
The Hotchkiss Bearcats finished the season 8-5-4 and earned a spot in New England’s regional prep school playoffs. They lost in the first round, however, to the eventual champions.
Gibbs says he was pleased that his team adopted more of a Caribbean flavor this year.
‘My first year, we tended to play more of a kick-and-chase game. But this year, because we had so many Caribbean players [seven], our coach decided to keep the ball on the ground and play more of a passing game. It allowed me to have a much better season than last year.’
Two other Caymanian players attend the school with Gibbs. They are Wade Mitchell Evans and Machel Turner, both from East End. Turner, who is not currently on island, earned all-star honors this season.
Gibbs has enjoyed his time at Hotchkiss. In fact, his only complaint is the weather.
‘The cold was a definitely a factor in games,’ he said. ‘It’s tough. I remember one game that was so cold my toes were totally numb at halftime. I had to put a hotpack on them to try and warm them up.’
Gibbs says that while life on the football field has been hard, there are no shortcuts in the classrooms either. The academic workload has been hard but he seems proud to have shouldered the burden so far and looks forward to the next step at the university level. Gibbs’ play has drawn the interest of a few US universities and he believes the offer of an athletic scholarship may be possible.
‘My time at Hotchkiss has been a great experience,’ Gibbs said. ‘It has taught me to be independent and to define myself. I’m in this world [Hotchkiss is an elite prep school filled with the sons and daughters of some of America’s wealthy and powerful leaders] where everybody’s father drives a Ferrari, so it’s been different, but I’ve handled myself well, I think.
‘I’m very grateful to my family and my coaches for helping me and believing in me,’ Gibbs continued. ‘I’m especially grateful to Coach [Winston] Chung. He pushed me and gave me constant reassurance when I went through tough times. I wouldn’t have made it this far without him.’
Gibbs plans to pursue a liberal arts degree and he aspires to become a writer. But while those goals are primary, football is not far behind. He loves his chosen game and his fiery passion for it is nowhere near extinguished.
‘It’s a great game. When you are out on the grass you have to work together with your teammates. If they make a mistake I do everything I can to help them and they do the same for me. It takes a tremendous amount of understanding and communication. The bond between players that is required is wonderful. The game’s simplicity is its beauty; it’s like art.’
Gibbs expects to graduate from the Hotchkiss School in May of 2005. His parents are Michelle and Michael Gibbs.