Former Papillion-La Vista High School and Nebraska Cornhusker John Gibson is one of 12 athletes recently named to the Nebraska High School Sports Hall of Fame for his talents.
After a successful high school career and a successful career as a Husker, Gibson, a 1996 Papio graduate, will have his name listed among other greats in the Hall of Fame.
“It was definitely a surprise when I first heard about it, but nonetheless it’s a great honor,” Gibson said. “Being one of the few individuals that is going to be etched in stone there after seeing so many great athletes and people who have already been inducted to the Hall of Fame, again, it’s just a great honor.
“Hopefully some kids will look up to that and let it give them a little something extra to strive for. This was never really on my goal plan or bucket list, but it’s definitely one of the biggest and best surprises I have had.”
Gibson was an all-state football standout at Papio as well as a three-time gold medalist in the triple jump.
In college, he was a member of Nebraska football’s 1997 national championship team and was also the 2001 Tom Novak Award winner, which is awarded to the Husker who best exemplifies courage and determination despite all odds and was named after former All-America center Tom Novak.
Going from a Monarch to learning the ways of the Huskers also packed some surprises for Gibson as he learned just what it meant to play for Nebraska.
“Growing up I was never a big Nebraska fan or really a follower of their culture until I got there,” Gibson said. “As soon as I got there, I learned fast about what their legacy was, who we played for, what it meant to play on that field and playing in the middle of Nebraska’s heyday.”
All the awards and recognition Gibson earned earlier were important, but the Hall of Fame selection is special.
“It ranks up there towards the top,” Gibson said. “This is one of those things, where it’s like the cream on top of it all. This is right up there with graduating from college, winning the Novak Award and this induction is right up there with these things.”
As with every athlete, Gibson has fond memories from his high school playing days.
“At Papio, the teammates I played with is really what made those times so fun,” Gibson said. “From my sophomore, junior and senior year playing with lots of different people coming up and maintaining the level of winning that we had was great.
“In my sophomore year especially, I remember us running a no-huddle offense and no one was doing that and we did it through the whole game. And knowing we left it all on the field every game including the state championship game where we lost, I never look back thinking of what-ifs.”
Gibson and the Monarchs lost to Millard South 28-24 in state championship game in 1995, his senior season.
Gibson now lives in Arizona and is a general manager for Bridgestone.