COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (Dec. 17, 2012) – Jake Gibb (Bountiful, Utah) has been named the USA Volleyball Male Athlete of the Year for beach volleyball.
Gibb, 36, and partner Sean Rosenthal (Redondo Beach, Calif.) finished the 2012 season as the FIVB World Tour Champions. They also qualified for their second-straight Olympic Games, where they finished fifth, and won the AVP Pro Beach Tour event in Santa Barbara, Calif.
“I am very honored and very excited about the award,” Gibb said. “Absolutely this has been my best year ever. It’s crazy that I’m 36 years old and just had my best year.”
Gibb was especially proud of having his best year in 2012 after having one of his worst in 2011 when he and Rosenthal won one silver medal and one bronze in international competition. That season came after Gibb was diagnosed with testicular cancer in 2010. The cancer was removed via surgery and no further treatment was necessary, allowing him to continue his training and competing.
“The impressive thing was just getting through that year (2011). In 2012, I regrouped and that is a testament to good coaching and support.”
Gibb credits coach Mike Dodd and trainer Tim Pelot for helping him improve in 2012.
“Mike change up some very key things in my game,” Gibb said. “Tim, my strength trainer, helped me put on 10 pounds of muscle. He helped my energy output.”
Gibb called winning the World Tour Championships the high point of his 2012 season.
“Being ranked No. 1 in the world is something I never even put on my radar,” he said. “I didn’t set it as a goal because I like to set realistic goals.”
Gibb and Rosenthal won two FIVB Grand Slam tournaments (Rome and Gstaad, Switzerland) for the first time. They also took the silver medal at the Berlin Grand Slam and the bronze at the Grand Slam in Klagenfurt, Austria. Gibb and Rosenthal placed fourth in three other FIVB events in 2012.
While Gibb and Rosenthal qualified for their second straight Olympics, Gibb called their fifth-place finish in London the low point of his season. The team had expected to compete for a medal after going in with four straight podium appearances in FIVB Grand Slams.
“We went in with that mindset,” he said. “I just felt like all the stars were aligned. We were playing really well. That was a really hard time.”
At the Olympics, Gibb finished 19th among all Olympic men’s beach volleyball players (second among Americans behind Rosenthal) with 75 points on 62 kills, 12 blocks and one ace in five matches (11 sets).
On the domestic side, Gibb and Rosenthal won a hard-fought victory at the AVP Championships in September in Santa Barbara. The pair lost to John Hyden (Sherman Oaks, Calif.) and Sean Scott (Kailua, Hawaii) in pool play, but advanced to defeat 2008 Olympic gold medalists Phil Dalhausser (Ormond Beach, Fla.) and Todd Rogers (Santa Barbara, Calif.) and then defeated Hyden and Scott in the semifinals. They defeated Brad Keenan (Westminster, Calif.) and John Mayer (Thousand Oaks, Calif.) in the final.
The next weekend, Gibb won the NVL Best of the Beach tournament in Las Vegas. He paired with Nick Lucena (St. Petersburg, Fla.) to defeat Matt Fuerbringer (Costa Mesa, Calif.) and Dalhausser in the final.
The future will bring big changes for Gibb, who will be partnering with Casey Patterson (Van Nuys, Calif.) after six years with Rosenthal, who will be playing with Dalhausser. Gibb and Patterson’s first tournament together is scheduled to be the FIVB World Cup event, currently planned for January in Brazil, although the site and date have not been confirmed.
He and Patterson are planning to compete wherever “the biggest tournament is.
“There will be some travel, both international and domestic with Casey. I hope I get to stay home (in Costa Mesa, Calif.) more than in 2012.”
Gibb wants to see more of Jane, his wife of 12 years, and son Crosby, who was born in 2011 while Gibb was on the road competing.