COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (Dec. 18, 2013) – In 2005, his first year on the FIVB World Tour, Jake Gibb partnered with U.S. beach volleyball veteran Stein Metzger, who taught the newbie an important lesson.
|Jake Gibb attacks against Canada.|
“It’s all about our team,” Gibb (Bountiful, Utah) said. “That’s something I learned a long time ago from Stein. You put together the best team you can. You put yourself in a place where you can succeed.”
With support from a team that included new partner Casey Patterson (Van Nuys, Calif.), new coach Tyler Hildebrand and strength trainer Tim Pelot, Gibb was voted the 2013 USA Volleyball Male Beach Athlete of the Year.
In accepting the honor, Gibb wanted to make sure that Patterson got credit for his role in their success.
“Winning athlete of the year, I’m very honored by that,” Gibb said. “But one thing that is overlooked is that I’ve been hitting the sets of the best setter in the world. Nobody ever writes about that; it’s an amazing gift. He’s made my life a lot easier.”
Going into the 2013 season, it’s fair to say that the spotlight was not on Gibb and Patterson, who came together at the end of 2012 after Gibb’s partner of seven years, Sean Rosenthal (Redondo Beach, Calif.), paired up with Olympic gold medalist Phil Dalhausser (Ormond Beach, Fla.).
While the focus was on Dalhausser and Rosenthal, Gibb, 37, and Patterson, 33, were flying under the radar; that is until they won the first FIVB Grand Slam of the season in Shanghai and then finished second at the Corrientes Grand Slam in Argentina and second at the FIVB World Cup Final the next weekend in Brazil.
“The highlight (of the season) was winning the Grand Slam in Shanghai,” Gibb said. “It was Casey’s first international win. To win the first Grand Slam of the year was cool and rewarding.”
After nine years on the FIVB World Tour, Gibb wasn't fazed when the team didn’t medal in its next three events, including a 17th at the FIVB World Championships in Stare Jablonki, Poland.
“I know how hard it is,” Gibb said. “I had no thoughts that we were going to be in every final. It wasn't an issue.”
Gibb's consistency and leadership helped the team bounce back with a third place at the Gstaad Grand Slam in Switzerland. And after a disappointing fourth-place finish at the Long Beach Grand Slam in California, Gibb and Patterson won the World Series Cup, which was also played in Long Beach, the next day.
“Jake is the cornerstone that makes it all work,” Hildebrand said. “Jake's leadership was crucial throughout the season. And I'm not just talking about his experience in checking in at hotels before the entire van of players gets off the bus, although that helped too.
“Jake has an ability to make the difficult situation seem simple. Secondly, he is just a wonderful competitor.”
While the team was working to improve internationally, it won four straight domestic AVP events in Cincinnati, Atlantic City, St. Petersburg, Fla., and Santa Barbara, Calif., and took third in three others.
“I had never done that before,” Gibb said of winning four in a row. “The most I had done before that was two.”
In total, Gibb and Patterson reached the podium 12 times in 2013.
Now that Gibb is the beach volleyball veteran, he knows he has to work harder than ever with Patterson, Pelot and Hildebrand so that his team finds more success in 2014.
“When I first went on tour in 2005, I felt like I was the biggest guy out there,” said Gibb, who measures 6-foot-7. “Now, I’m a very average sized blocker. Kids keep getting bigger and stronger, so I had to get bigger and stronger.”