When an athlete looks ahead to his or her final stanza of a career, the anticipation is often just as rewarding as the actual endgame.
For Bishop Shanahan outfielder Derek Gibbs and the rest of the 2020 spring sports seniors, the anticipation will have to do.
The hard-hitting Gibbs, who was a key part of Bishop Shanahan’s run to the PIAA Class 5A tournament last season, has likely played his last game of organized high-level baseball, after the COVID-19 pandemic wiped out the 2020 season.
Gibbs, who will attend Penn State University in the fall, will not play baseball while there.
“It really hurt when we finally heard the season was cancelled,” Gibbs said. “When it was just postponed we were holding out hope there would be a season but as the days went by you sort of knew it was not going to happen. Still, when it was officially off it really hurt. We were looking forward to this senior season together.”
Gibbs said last season’s run in states will be something he and his teammates will never forget, as the Eagles caught fire late in the 2019 season and advanced to the District 1 Class 5A championship game against Holy Ghost Prep, followed by a first-round state playoff win.
“Last season was so much fun for me and the rest of us,” Gibbs said. “We really surprised a lot of people. Coach [Brian] Boyko told us nobody expected us to go that far so we really surprised a lot of people. The game I will never forget was the district semifinal game against Marple Newtown. They were the defending state champs and they had just scored like 15 runs on some team and not one person expected us to win. And we went out and beat them. Everybody on that team will probably never forget that game. It was just an incredible end of the season for us and we wanted to build on that this season.”
Gibbs said the fact his senior class while it was nice to go out on a winning note, the first state playoff win for the Eagles since 1998 did not make the 2020 cancellation much easier to swallow.
“I mean, it helps a little bit,” Gibbs said. “But, on the other hand we wanted to play our senior season and we wanted to see the young guys, but it really makes it worse that we did not have a senior season. Everybody waits their whole school life to play a senior season and to lose it like we did really hurts all of us.”
Gibbs said he will most likely try out for a club baseball team at Penn state but said his academic life will take priority over baseball from now on.
“I will miss baseball a lot but I wanted to focus on my academic career,” Gibbs said. “And I wanted to go to Penn State. I have not declared a major yet but I want to go into hospital administration. I will try out for a club baseball team to just have fun because baseball was a big part of my life.”
Gibbs’ “all for the team” attitude was echoed by Bishop Shanahan coach Brian Boyko.
“Derek is a great kid who is extremely coachable,” Boyko said. “He is always working to get better and will do whatever you ask of him. He is usually an infielder who I threw in the outfield last year. He never complained, he just did it because it was best for the team.”