A family affair

Well armed: Little Flower seni­or soft­ball pitch­er Lind­sey Gibbs has been a dom­in­ant pres­ence on and off the field for the Sen­tinels. A team cap­tain, she is set to gradu­ate fourth in her class. MARIA POUCH­NIKOVA / TIMES PHO­TOS

— Lind­sey Gibbs’ grand­moth­er swayed her and her sis­ter to­ward Little Flower. The de­cision has cer­tainly paid off.

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 em­or­rone@bsmphilly.com

You can reach at emorrone@bsmphilly.com.

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