May 23, 2024

OC Sports Zone: Community First

Woodbridge officials to honor long-time football coach Rick Gibson Friday night

Woodbridge football coach Rick Gibson (right) and Northwood Coach Paige Nobles visit before this year’s game. (Photo Fernando M. Donado, For OC Sports Zone)

Woodbridge High officials and the Athletic Booster Club are encouraging fans to show up Friday night for the Pacific Coast League finale to honor long-time football coach Rick Gibson, who is retiring at the end of the season.

Woodbridge will be hosting Portola at University at 7 p.m.and after the game, fans will be invited onto the field to see the ceremony honoring Gibson.

Woodbridge (3-6, 2-2) is still in the running for a CIF playoff berth. Portola, which has already clinched a share of the league title, will be a formidable opponent, but Gibson said if the Warriors can pull off an upset their chances of advancing to the Division 9 playoffs are “pretty good.” Portola is 8-1 overall and 4-0 in league play.

Gibson will be honored after the game by Woodbridge officals and the booster club. He will coach the Warriors if they advance to the playoffs and then hand over the head coaching duties to co-head coach Aaron Craver after that.

Gibson, who has been at Woodbridge for 32 years, has made quite an impact with the program, providing steady leadership which resulted in 18 CIF playoff appearances, three league titles and one CIF championship. Woodbridge advanced to the semifinal round of the CIF playoffs five times under Gibson.

“Fifteen years ago I met Rick Gibson on my way into a science interview at Woodbridge High School,” said Woodbridge Principal Christopher Krebs. “Since that day we’ve coached together, taught together, served in administrative roles together and, most importantly, been friends.

“Rick is someone who values relationships and has an undying loyalty to the people and institutions he serves. He has made personal and professional sacrifices to ensure his students, athletes, families and colleagues are taken care of and treated with a level of care and respect not common in today’s world.  He’s the kind of guy you want your kid around. He’s the kind of coach you want your other coaches to model themselves after.

“He’s the person you want standing next to you during a difficult time. He’s a true Warrior who bleeds red and gold. Although I’m going to miss seeing my friend Rick coaching on the sideline, his career still has chapters that are unwritten.  We’re going to keep him around here as long as we can.”

Woodbridge High Athletic Booster Club President Jay Lyon also pointed out Gibson’s contributions.

“I think today’s generation doesn’t stop to think about what it means to have someone in a position for 30 plus years…  no matter what that position is,” Lyon said.

“In today’s athletic environment, coaches move quickly from job to job, and opportunity to opportunity.  Rarely do we get the chance to honor someone who has devoted his or her life to a career and community. This opportunity could not be denied.

“We are so lucky and honored to be able to say that Woodbridge High School, and our football program, has one of those individuals.: Coach Rick Gibson.

“We were approached by Alumni, going back years, asking what they could do to help celebrate Coach Gibson’s career. We thought, what better way than to celebrate following Coach Gibson’s final league home game.  We are hopeful of post season play, but felt this was the right time. And what better way, then to have alumni, current players and their families, come down onto the field and gather around Coach Gibson to celebrate his honorable Career.  So that’s what we plan to do.

“Following our game against Portola, we will invite everyone to join us down on the field for a celebratory presentation honoring Coach Gibson. We know it will be a challenge do it justice, but we also know that the moment could not come and go, without celebration.

“Our school and community are proud of Coach Gibson, for being one of those folks that teaches us commitment, passion and dedication to the youth of past and present, can be shared within 1 community for all of these years!  We hope that our community stops and thinks a bit about this…. because I know… once the moment passes, he will be greatly missed. I feel honored to be a part of this.” 

Gibson has also earned the respect of those he has coached against.

“My hats off and much respect for Coach Gibson and the decades of service he has given to the City of Irvine and the Woodbridge HS community as a whole,” said Portola Coach Peter Abe.

“Year in and out, he strives to do the best he can to not only put his team and school in position for success, but to promote ideals that build winners in the game of life as students enter adulthood.  He has always been a class act in my dealings with him as a colleague and mentor off the field, and has been nothing less than a fierce competitor in our experiences on the field. I wish Coach Gibson a happy retirement.

“He deserves it.  But a small part of me is hoping he doesn’t stay away too long, and we get a chance to see him on a practice field once again in the near future. He’s had quite the run… It’s been an honor to have been around to witness and learn from his experience.”

Northwood football coach Paige Nobles also praised Gibson.

“What can I say about Coach Rick Gibson that hasn’t been already said a million times except I will miss coaching against him,” Nobles said. “Coach Gibson is a coaching legend. Coach Gibson has set the bar pretty darn high for the rest of us to follow. I wish nothing but the best for Coach Gibson as he is a mentor and friend. Best of luck coach on your well-deserved retirement.”

RELATED: Gibson announces he will retire after season

-Tim Burt, OC Sports Zone; timburt@ocsportszone.com