In his 18th year as head coach of the Springfield College Pride, John Gibson has the Pride women’s soccer team sitting at 9-1 and looking as dominant as ever.
Gibson has accumulated more accolades than he can count during his time at Springfield, including leading the women’s soccer program to seven NEWMAC Championships and eight trips to the NCAA Championship Tournament. He has been named NEWMAC Women’s Soccer Coach of the Year six times, including three-straight years from 2010-2012.
So why is Gibson still coaching Division III women’s soccer? The answer to that question starts back when he was a child in England.
At 11 years old, John Gibson a native of London, England attended his first soccer game with a few of friends. The sport peaked his interest more than any other and by fifteen he knew he was going to be a soccer coach.
“I went to college to study physical education because the main route to be a coach in England was by being an athlete and I wasn’t much of that, so I had to take the education route.”
After graduating from St Luke’s College in Exeter, Gibson had trouble getting a teaching job in England. So he decided to come to America.
“I came to this country looking for a job and actually ended up meeting the lady who became my wife.” Gibson said.
He then attended Marshall University in West Virginia. He was a Graduate Assistant for the soccer team, and received his masters in Physical Education in 1985. Then he moved on to Ohio State University, where he was a Graduate Assistant for its soccer team and earned his P.H.D in philosophy of sport in 1989.
Gibson then went back to Marshall where he accepted a job as head men’s soccer coach. At Marshall, a Division I soccer program, Gibson coached for five seasons, from 1989-1993. In his second season with the program, he was named Southern Conference coach of the year. Gibson left Marshall after five seasons.
“Things really didn’t work well at Marshall and I was really looking for opportunities to do something else, so I went back to England.”
Gibson went back to England for six years with his wife and did not coach any soccer during this time. His wife had trouble finding jobs because her credentials were in the U.S.
Gibson applied for multiple jobs in the United States and ended up choosing Springfield College for its education more than anything else.
“This is the only women’s job I applied for and this is the one I got. I really only applied here because of the history of the physical education program,” Gibson said. “When I was studying undergrad and read history of sport books I’d always see Springfield College so I knew I was interested and it existed.”
Gibson quickly fell in love with working with his athletes and in 2005 everything the team began to buy into his style and he began truly having success.
“I love working with the women,” Gibson said. “The school built a new field in 2005 and that year we won the conference. I also had the best recruiting class I’d had up to that point and with those two things we made a big leap forward.”
In his 18th season, and with as much as he has accomplished, Gibson still yearns for a national championship. Gibson has taken the women’s program to the tournament multiple times but has never managed to make it past the second round.
Gibson seems optimistic on his team’s chances this season.
“If we can keep everyone healthy and we keep working the way we have been working, then yeah, we should have a shot.”