Growing up, Lindsey Gibbs had plenty of high school options that were much closer to her Fox Chase home than Little Flower.
When it came time to decide where she would spend four of the most important years of her life, Gibbs turned to her grandmother — a Little Flower alum — for advice.
As it turns out, Grandma proved to be quite the saleswoman. Not only did she talk Lindsey into the Little Flower allure, but Lindsey’s fraternal twin sister, Christi, followed suit. Looking back on it almost four years later, Lindsey realizes why attending a school that’s been in her family for decades proved to be such an easy sell.
“Sisterhood … strong tradition … unbelievable friendships, these are the things she (Grandma) told us to expect,” Gibbs said. “You hear about it, and you just instantly want to come here.”
Gibbs was speaking before a recent Friday afternoon Little Flower softball practice, a team she has been a part of for three seasons. A captain and the team’s top pitcher, Gibbs’ current senior season represents the final chapter of her Little Flower book, one she hopes includes the team’s third straight Catholic League playoff appearance.
But the school has meant so much more to her than just softball. (“The Gibbs,” as the sibling duo is referred to around school, also played field hockey in the fall). Lindsey Gibbs has grown immensely as not only an athlete, but also as a person.
She entered Little Flower as an admittedly shy freshman; now, she’s got tons of friends. Gibbs is also president of the school’s National Honor Society, takes multiple advanced placement classes and is on target to graduate fourth in her class. Her emergence as a leader on the softball field likely would not have happened if the school hadn’t first made her feel accepted and welcomed.
So, in her mind, what exactly constitutes a “Little Flower girl?”
“A Little Flower girl is well-rounded, willing to get involved, someone who makes friends easily,” she said. “It’s changed me as a person.”
Being an ambassador for the school has helped her transition seamlessly into a natural leader on the softball diamond. Gibbs lost her first two games this season due to a lack of run support (Little Flower scored just one run combined) despite pitching quite effectively. Oftentimes, a team’s inability to score can be mentally draining for a pitcher. Not for Gibbs.
“There is a huge mental side to pitching, so I just don’t let it bother me,” she said. “If our attitude drops as a team, then we won’t score, which is why I try to keep everyone smiling and hustling. We pick each other up. That’s a huge part of playing well, just continuously supporting and cheering for each other. There’s so much cheering during our games, I think other teams look at us like we’re crazy.”
The positive mentality seems to have worked, as Little Flower responded with a perfect 3-0 week (they were 3-3 overall when the Times went to press), scoring 19 runs in victories over Masterman, Archbishop Wood and Archbishop Carroll. Predictably, Gibbs was in the middle of it all, going 2-0 with 19 strikeouts and one walk on the week. For the season, she is 2-2 with a 1.92 earned run average. In 28 innings, she’s compiled 32 strikeouts against just four walks.
“I wasn’t too familiar with her, but right away I saw her leadership stand out,” said first-year head coach Dan Milio, who replaced the retired John Strunk. “She takes control on the field and she takes control of the girls on the bench. There are just so many adjectives I could use to describe her. It was an easy decision naming her captain.”
After two straight first-round Catholic League playoff exits, Gibbs said she’d love a chance to advance further into the postseason in her final go-round at the school; however, she also acknowledged Little Flower’s youth, and wants to ensure she passes on every bit of wisdom to the underclassmen who will helm the program after she’s gone.
“The goal is always to win, but with this group, I just want to take it one game at a time,” she said. “Right now, I’m still trying to show them we have the potential to do this. The season goes so fast, and I haven’t really thought of it as, ‘We only have this many games left.’ I’m just focusing on giving them my best so they have the best chance of winning.”
The unselfish leader hasn’t committed to a college program just yet, though softball will most assuredly be in the cards at the next level. Gibbs said she really fancied Marywood University in Scranton, mainly because everything she knew about the school reminded her of Little Flower. While Christi Gibbs is bound for Gwynedd-Mercy College to study nursing, Lindsey said she was more interested in health administration, the “business side” of the medical field.
Whatever she ends up doing with her life, odds are Gibbs will do it well. According to her, she has Little Flower to thank for that. She and Christi have developed into confident young women who — despite being “definitely scared about being apart” — will enter college with confidence and determination, just like Grandma envisioned.
“I grew so much in my time here, and I feel like I built the foundation for whatever I do next,” she said. “I feel like I could do anything. Little Flower teaches us to dream big and to believe you can do whatever you put your mind to. Hard work will — and does — pay off.” ••
Sports Editor Ed Morrone can be reached at 215-354-3035 or firstname.lastname@example.org