AHS Head Football Coach Rob Gibson Is All In

Writer / Melissa Gibson
Photography Provided

Rob Gibson has played and coached football for most of his life.
He was a two-time all-state selection and set South Putnam’s all-time rushing record in high school.
As a student at Marion University, the athlete ran for 2,163 career yards and 25 touchdowns.

Rob Gibson

In college, Gibson would practice with his team, take his helmet and shoulder pads off, and head to the Cardinal Ritter team on the nearby field to coach in his football pants.
Gibson helped lead Cardinal Ritter to their 2016 state championship.
Over the years he’s coached for high schools both private and public, across central Indiana and beyond.
In fact, his two-year coaching position at Owen Valley High School in Spencer, Indiana, was perhaps his biggest challenge yet.

“They had won four games in five years,” Gibson says. “When I started coaching, there were 117 people in the stands, and on our last game two years later, there were 6,000 people there. The local stores shut down with signs in the window that said, ‘Gone to the Game.’”
After two years, Owen Valley had a 22-3 record and their first sectional title in 29 years.
Today he’s the new head coach of Avon High School’s football team and plans to do it again.
“Without going into detail, the plan is working so far,” Gibson says. “There is a system in place for every individual part of our program, all the way down to how we get a break after practice.”
Avon has had a less than stellar record over the past couple of years, winning three games in two years.
However, Gibson likes a challenge and looks for programs that need an extra boost.
He wants to have the answers for a program looking to improve, has high expectations and aspirations, and the school corporation is excited to see the changes on the horizon.
“While we interviewed several candidates, Rob distinguished himself from the start of the process,” says Avon Community School Corporation Superintendent Dr. Scott Wyndham. “His record on the field and on the sidelines speaks for itself.”
While Gibson knows it takes time to make the necessary changes and improve the program overall, he’s in it for the long haul.
“Rome wasn’t built in a day, but I think you’re going to see a ton of energy, accountability and excitement,” he says. “You’re going to see an immediate impact on our program.”
With 20 coaches, 15 of whom are new to Avon High School and five returning to different positions, nearly everything will change with the upcoming season, but Gibson is counting on it.
A new strength coach and a new speed coach have joined the team. Both are experienced and have worked with Gibson in the past.
“I really love our staff,” Gibson says. “We have a ton of previous college coaches, head coaches and coordinators. This level of experience is really beneficial to the kids.”

Rob Gibson

He’s also appreciative of the excitement and support of families, including the coach’s own, surrounding the program.
“Our wives are the best assistant coaches we have,” Gibson says. “They are constantly sacrificing, supporting and volunteering.”
There are more than 150 football athletes on the roster so far. While they all practice together, there is a freshman team, junior varsity team and varsity team, giving athletes something to strive for and a team that continues to improve every day.
Chances are, things will look quite different to those athletes returning for the 2023 season.
“The biggest difference you’ll see at an Avon practice is we don’t have any athletes just standing around,” Gibson says. “There are multiple drills, multiple locations on our field where guys are constantly putting in the work. We don’t do offense and defense drills with 105 guys standing there watching.”
With every player on the field during practice, it allows each one to continue to improve, and Gibson says the guys are already working hard this summer to get those starting positions.
Though it’s evident that Gibson, the coaches and the athletes love the game, the plan is much bigger than what happens on the field.
Perhaps most importantly, athletes are always held responsible and accountable for their actions and behavior – an important aspect to developing a team.
“Contrary to what most believe, kids still want to be held accountable, and they want to work hard and be a part of something special,” Rob Gibson says. “If I had to choose one word, I’d say accountability is what turns programs around.”
He wants the athletes to be accountable in all areas of life, not just the football field. At Owen Valley, Gibson led his athletes to set 29 school records on the field, but also dramatic academic improvements in the classroom, with 17 Wabash Valley All-Stars and 22 Wabash Valley Academic All-Stars.

Rob Gibson

“I’m most impressed by his character and his dedication to developing student athletes who are successful in all areas of life,” says Avon High School Principal Matt Shockley. “He possesses the personality and experience required to be successful as our head coach.”
When players are held to a high standard, it can prompt the teens to achieve more as individuals on a variety of levels, including the field. They work hard to reach those new levels of expectation.
The team comes together at least five days per week and sometimes twice per day, whether it be on the field or in the weight room, but it’s not all just drills and workouts.
“We’re not always practicing and lifting,” Gibson says. “They don’t know it yet, but at some point they’ll do team-building games. We’re not running them to death. The more they are with us and together, the more they’re building relationships and the better off they’ll be outside of football.”
Rob Gibson knows the importance of building those relationships and what they can mean years down the road.
“My high school football coaches came to my college football games,” he says. “They came to my wedding. We have a great relationship and that starts when you’re a player, and that’s what I want for our players and myself in the coaching role. Later on down the road, we still need each other. It’s one of the coolest fraternities ever.”
The father of two says – at the risk of sounding clichéd – that he hopes the message sent is how Avon football is impacting athletes in a positive way.
“I couldn’t be more sincere when I say making a difference in the lives of kids is why we coach,” Rob Gibson says. “It’s really very little about the wins and losses, and more about the relationships you build. The wins and losses take care of themselves if you’re doing everything else right.”
For more information about Avon High School football, visit ahs.avon-schools.org.

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