Lax standout scores on family legacy

March 30, 2010

by Katherine Restrepo ’12

Gibbs Preston has a clear memory of being introduced to the fundamentals of the game of lacrosse by his father, Bruce, when he was 6 years old. In the back yard of their Baltimore home, father and son each held a stick and practiced flipping the ball over into the pockets of the other’s lacrosse head. Who knew that Gibbs would one day be in the running to break his dad’s scoring records while continuing the family tradition at McDaniel?

From the beginning, Gibbs just knew he was McDaniel-bound. Bruce graduated in 1975 and serves on the College’s Board of Trustees. Gibbs recalls the countless times he would attend football games and other extracurricular events on the Hill. Gibbs’ mother, Patrice, earned a master’s in Education in 1979. Then there’s the baseball field, Preston Stadium, named in honor of his grandfather, Wilbur “Woody” D. Preston Jr. on his 75th birthday.

A first baseman, Woody played baseball for the Green Terror in 1943, was a phenomenal golfer and a stud football player his freshman year. Woody was elected to the Board of Trustees in 1967 and served as Board Chair from 1971-82. His son Bruce, Gibbs’ father, is an original Division I lacrosse prospect and member of the football team so Gibbs could easily have wilted from the pressure of such a legacy. Instead, he’s competing against it.

At the start of the spring season, the 2010 pre-season All-American attack was ranked 14th in scoring with 78 goals and 79 assists. Gibbs only needed 22 more points to surpass his father’s record of 112 goals and 67 assists. Just recently, the senior standout achieved his goal by moving up to 11th place – and pushing his dad, Bruce, down to 12th.

But Gibbs doesn’t let his impressive statistics get to his head.  “Sure, I may walk with a little bit of a swagger, but at the same time I want to get the job done,” he says.

Bruce Preston couldn’t be prouder of his son’s athletic accomplishments:  “Gibbs is a very unselfish and balanced player. If you look at his lifetime stats, you will see that his goals and assists are almost dead even.”

Gibbs, a Sociology major, is a true public relations man at heart. He says he enjoys figuring out the things that make people tick. He knows how to balance the intensity level and is an expert in bringing out the fun aspects of the game. Senior captain and goalie K.R. Schultz says, “Gibbs knows how to make the team feel like family on and of the field by including everyone all the time. For as successful as he is, he also treats everyone else with respect.”

Both Bruce and Patrice Preston have been their son’s biggest fans throughout his career and Gibbs credits them with instilling in him a love for the game. He will always remember his mom, an elementary teacher at McDonogh School in Owings Mills, walking him and his teammates to the lacrosse field every day after school and watching them practice. And, to this day, Gibbs believes that the best advice his father has ever given to him is that athletes will play their best when they have fun and play within their own capabilities.

Patrice and Bruce Preston with son Gibbs

Gibbs shares another memory of an important lacrosse lesson he learned from his father. It was the “Lax-Max” tournament and Gibbs’ team, competing in the under-10 age group, was losing. For the first time, Gibbs experienced the pressure of a “win-or-go-home” situation. At half-time, Bruce, the coach, strategically saved the day. Instead of intensifying the pressure, Bruce told everyone in the team huddle to tell a joke. Gibbs remembers his dad starting off the silliness, and the entire team following his example. With a final look of satisfaction on his face, Gibbs concludes, the entire second half was “total domination” and they ran away with a victory.

Gibbs says he knows how to live in the moment and continues to enjoy the final days of his senior year and his last competitive lacrosse season. A true Green Terror on the field, Number 24 credits his success to a winning combination of his family’s support and mental determination. Gibbs often quotes Mike Tyson who said, “Nobody’s a more dangerous fighter than a happy fighter.”