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October 16, 2013
The Beatles penned a song back in the 70's called the The Long and Winding Road. The lyrics speak of the trials and tribulations of a journey that never seems to reach a final destination.
Many times I've been alone
And many times I've cried
Anyway you'll never know
The many ways I've tried
And still they lead me back
To the long winding road
You left me standing here
A long long time ago
Don't leave me waiting here
Lead me to your door
For 6th year senior Tia Gibbs, the road has indeed been a trek of ups and downs, of gains and failures...tears of joy and heartbreak. This season, though...the light appears at the end of the tunnel, the traffic has cleared and Gibbs looks for great accomplishments on the court.
As Jeff Walz has said: "We've replaced a lot of parts, done a lot of repair work on Tia. We're anxious to see how the re-built model does."
Gibbs was the 2008 Miss Kentucky Basketball, leading Butler High School to the Kentucky State Championship. She started five seasons at the school about a mile off of Dixie Highway in Shively and averaged over 20 points a game from her freshman year onward. All the major college powers wanted her. Louisville was in the mix. She chose Vanderbilt.
At Vandy, she played in 28 games as a freshman, injuries hindering her overall performance. A season where she averaged 5.1 and 2.4 rebounds. In Louisville, they were on the way to the national championship title. In Nashville, it was a season where her Commodores fell to surprising Auburn in the SEC Championship.
After a season away from the "Ville", Gibbs decided it was time to come back home.
Jeff Walz recognized the talent and potential there. He welcomed her to the team. After sitting out a transfer season, Gibbs hit the court in 2010-11 and started all 35 games for UofL. She led the team in steals. Averaged 8.8 a game. Was a part of the unforgettable win against Xavier in Cincinnati that took the Cards to the Sweet Sixteen.
Gibbs' world was golden.
Then, in the first game of the 2011-12 season, four minutes into the Missouri State game, she felt her shoulder pop. A season ending injury, another season on the sidelines. The road had become a dead end.
Another year of rehabilitation, strength and conditioning. Watching from the bench as the Cards made it to the second round of the NCAA Tournament. Petitioning the NCAA for a meical hardship waiver. Then, a torn hip muscle. Was this the end of her career?
The spirit can be an overwhelming factor in our lives. Gibbs was determined to take the court again. More rehab, more strength and conditioning. Watching again in the 2012-13 season as the Cards marched to the final game in the NCAA Tournament. Waiting for the second hardship waiver grant.
Today, Tia Gibbs is healthy. At least as healthy as she can be...given the three operations. The shoulder appears to be 100%. Her three-point excellence has returned. She still can't take a full stride when running down the court because of the hip...but she's practicing, enthused and ready to go.
She jokingly refers to herself as "an eighth-year senior". Walz would be tickled to get 15 solid minutes a game from her. She has the potential to be a solid contributor to a team that has incredible depth, skill and talent.
The road for Tia is traffic-free and smooth these days. Will she help pilot the Cardinal Express to Nashville in March?
If desire and determination have anything to do with it, we expect Gibbs will be on that caravan...providing the lock-down defense from her earlier days and draining trifectas from beyond the arc.
For Tia Gibbs, the long and winding road...despite the bumps, twists and detours...is coming to a successful journey's end. Happy motoring, Butler Bear!