April 4, 2012
A Teen Makes Regionals: Kirk Gibson
By Shelby Levy

Last year at this time, Kirk Gibson was getting ready to graduate from high school and choosing a college. One year later, this 19-year-old is packing his bags for the South East Regional. Gibson finished the Open in 36th place in the region and is the only teenager from the South East who will be competing for a shot at the Games. 

Gibson grew up active in sports, primarily baseball, where he played pitcher because he was “too slow to play anything else.” Having been an overweight child, his father made him start CrossFit during his junior year in high school in order to get in better shape for sports. He joined CrossFit Pulse in McDonough, Ga., in September 2009 weighing in at about 235 pounds.

“I don’t remember my first CrossFit workout, but I remember the warm up kicked my butt. It was terrible,” Gibson says. “We had to do pull-ups and push-ups for three rounds or something. It was brutal.”

Gibson quickly became an avid CrossFitter and realized he might actually have a talent for it when he beat his coach and owner of CrossFit Pulse, Bryan Shockley, who finished in 13th place in the Master Men’s 46-50 age group. It was a workout consisting of three rounds of 15 hang cleans at 135 pounds and 15 burpees. “I was like, ‘Maybe I’d be pretty good if I took this seriously,’” Gibson says.

For Christmas that year, Gibson’s parents gave him the gift of sending him to a Level 1 Seminar, and he began coaching at Pulse. “I loved CrossFit Pulse and everyone there,” he says. “They helped make me who I am today, and I wouldn’t be the athlete I am today without the help of Bryan Shockley and Dion Moore.”

During his senior year, Gibson visited Albany, Ga., for a baseball tournament and stopped in at World Camp CrossFit where its affiliate team was training in preparation for the CrossFit Games. “I walked in and said, ‘Wow! This is the nicest gym I’ve ever seen.’ I looked at the team and told myself ‘I need to go here.’”

Although Gibson had other options, he eventually accepted a scholarship to play baseball at Darton College in Albany, so he would be able to work out at World Camp. He soon quit the baseball team in order to devote more time to CrossFit. 

“I hope at least one kid reads this and his life is changed because of it. You wouldn’t believe how much better your life is when you are in good shape."

“I always wondered how good I could be if I didn’t have to worry about baseball practice every day,” he admits. “It’s crazy how much better I have gotten since I gave it up.”

His training schedule is grueling, working out three days on, one day off, two days on, one day off. In the mornings, he works on strength and does one or two conditioning workouts. He returns in the afternoon to do another met-con, a strength workout and ends with a met-con. He excels at short heavy transitional workouts, especially when deadlifts, power cleans and power snatches are programmed. He lists his weaknesses as swimming, rope climbs and pistols.

“Kirk Gibson is a great athlete, and at most times, is much more mature than guys twice his age. He is very diligent, very tedious. He wants to get things right – he doesn’t want to just get through it,” says Kris Morrill, coach and owner of World Camp CrossFit. “He pays very close attention to the details of his training. He does regular gym programming and works on weaknesses on his own time. That is the key to his success in CrossFit. CrossFit has always been known as a sport to expose weaknesses, and I feel he does a very good job of acknowledging his own weaknesses and is able to work on them to hone his skills even further.” 

Gibson, who has now leaned down to 170 pounds, has dreams of making it to the Games. “I am going to Regionals with every intention to make it to the Games, but I think if I improve half as much as I did over the past year, I will have a good shot next year,” he says.

Morrill agrees. “I think we will see Kirk sneak up on a lot of people, turn a lot of heads,” he says. “He is basically a no-named athlete right now. I think he has the potential for top five, if not top three, at Regionals depending on the workouts. He is a wildcard. By Day 3, he will make a name for himself.”

Gibson is proud of what he has been able to accomplish in such a short time. “I wasn’t blessed with a lot of what people are blessed with. I had to earn it,” he says. “I didn’t walk in and do a 3:00 Fran the first time. I couldn’t event squat below parallel, much less do a pull-up. I had to start from scratch.

“I hope at least one kid reads this and his life is changed because of it. You wouldn’t believe how much better your life is when you are in good shape,” he says, adding in typical teenage fashion, “Talking to girls is much easier."