Tommy Gibbs is a husband and father who shares his love for sports with the many hearts of children throughout west Chatham county.
Tommy began his journey in physical education at the recreation department in Liberty County at the early age of twenty and shares that, “I found out that I loved coaching much more than I loved playing.”
“The coaching call was definitely the right move.” He reflects on his time in Liberty County and how he took a group of twelve-year old kids to finish second in the state in an all-star tournament.
A fire began to burn for his passion in helping children thrive in their love of sports. “I actually started my own travel organization that just ran a little differently than everybody else’s because I just do it as a volunteer. I don’t do it for a job. I do it to help kids improve and I love the rec department. So I continued to coach for the rec and I graduated college in 2004 and got my first job at Bryan County High School. I taught and coached there for two years.”
Tommy then took his love for coaching to West Chatham Elementary where he has been happily teaching physical education for eleven years. “I’ve worked at the rec department here in Pooler for the past three years, where I coach baseball, basketball, and currently soccer.”
He continues, “Baseball is obviously my passion, I coached the eight and under all-stars last year and it was something new with that group. We were okay. We were about a five-hundred team, I would guess. At that time, I said, I am gonna invest in these kids, these upcoming eights for next year, and we’re gonna make a run at the state title. So, we spent the year doing travel baseball with these kids and developing, practicing, and we all signed back up this year. We made a run and we won the district championship and then finished second in the state.”
Tommy continues to express that he’s not in the field for a job, he does it for the love of the game and for the love of kids. “Kids are my life. I tell people that I don’t come to work for a job. I come to work for a passion. I don’t know what I would do without them. I think I need them more than they need me. So, most days we come to work, we do P.E. at West Chatham, I go to one of the rec fields to do baseball, soccer, basketball, something like three to four days out of the week and then on the weekend.”
He shares that the people that work at the recreation department are all very helpful and allow him use to any and all that he needs in order to coach the kids. “They are wonderful and give me whatever I need as far as field space and things to coach, and to me, children are our future so developing them is what we have to do. All kids need a hobby, whether it’s sports, music, reading… It doesn’t matter what it is. But, I gotta get it in my kids’ heads that I want them to understand that they have to have something they love and believe in in life and follow it. With all of my baseball kids, I’ve got them trained that you know, you’re never good enough. This sounds a little harsh but if you ever believe you’re good enough, it’s time to quit. Because even the guys that play on T.V. are looking to get better. There’s someone a little younger than them, a little faster than them, and a little stronger who’s always trying to come in and take their spot. So, if you ever get to a point where you stop working… somebody is gonna catch up and pass you so have got to keep that hunger and keep that fire, and the way to do that is to get better. No matter how good you think you are, you can always get better,” he conveys with great profundity.
Tommy is transparent with a love and passion when it comes to coaching these kids and looks to himself in ways he can grow alongside his them. “I tell my kids the same about myself and look back at ways I can become a better teacher and how I can become a better coach,” he says.
These qualities that Tommy has in pushing for continuous growth in all that he does, is exactly what he reflects to the children he coaches. He is a true leader by example and won 2015’s Teacher of the Year Award for West Chatham Elementary.
Paving the way for better physical education
Tommy continues to move up the ladder, making bigger and positive changes while holding a spot in the organization that runs health and physical education for the state of Georgia. He is the south-eastern member at large and one of seven people who help create curriculum for physical education in schools for the state.
When asked if he would continue to volunteer, his response is quick and spoken with concrete certainty. “Coaching, whether it’s with the rec or the school, I don’t want it to become a business. I do it because I love it. I’ve had job offers to coach college, but it’s just not worth it to me because it’s not a business. This is just what I love to do.