The Buffalo Grove girls track program will have a new look next year.
Head coach Steve Gibble, who has long been the face of the Bisons girls track team, will be retiring after 34 years of teaching at the end of this school year.
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Gibble spent 31 of those years as the leader of BG girls track team. Current assistant track coach and former head cross country coach Ron Brusa will succeed Gibble as head coach next spring.
"It's kind of like the back nine," said Gibble, a golf fan, of his impending departure. "I've been really trying to stand and take it all in."
There's a lot to take in, considering Gibble has spent his entire career at BG.
He graduated from Sterling High School in 1974, and then attended Augustana College in Rock Island, graduating in 1978.
Gibble took a job in the Buffalo Grove math department in the fall of 1978, and has never looked back.
"It is unbelievable what he has accomplished," said Mark Schaetzlein, Buffalo Grove assistant principal and director of student activities. "He's been a model of consistency and contributed so much to Buffalo Grove. He's such a diligent worker, and these 34 years have passed in a blink of an eye."
Gibble was part of the Buffalo Grove's math department for 34 years and was also an assistant football coach for 34 years. He was part of Grant Blaney's staff when BG took second in in the state 1978, and when the Bison won a state title in 1986. He also worked under former head coaches Rich Roberts and Jim Farrell.
Gibble kept busy in the winter as an IHSA referee for girls basketball. This season he worked his first state tournament in Bloomington.
Gibble has definitely left his mark in many ways, but it has been girls track where the he has left the biggest impression.
He has coached three state medalists including Jill Templer (fourth in the 3,200 in 1986), Jean Marinangeli (third in the 3,200, '02), and Olivia Jones (ninth in the 3,200 in '09).
Natalie Badowski helped lead BG to a pair of Mid-Suburban League titles in 2002 by taking first in the 400 and also leading the 800 medley to a first-place finish.
Lisa Kaufman took first in the long jump at the MSL meet in 1993, and Alison Recker added a first-place finish in the 100 high hurdles at the MSL meet in 1999. Jamie Brusa was an all around threat for BG in the last decade.
These are just a few of the athletes that Gibble helped to mentor, and there have been countless others that he has helped achieved personal records.
Gibble received just as much joy out of his state-level athletes as he did from the athletes that were able to deliver personal best marks.
"The needs of the athletes were always first," said current Hersey girls track coach Jim Miks, who was an assistant to Gibble from 1994-2000. "And the kids really respected him for that. He gave a lot of time and effort, and did a lot of good for so many kids."
Gibble could always be found at meets on the infield surrounded by many of his athletes, urging them on with positive messages.
"He's like a big teddy bear," said Schaetzlein, "He is a lovable figure and the kids really related to him."
Gibble also was a member of the Illinois Track and Cross Country Coaches Association and was an assistant for five years and head coach for three years for the Illinois Senior Girls Track all-star team.
One thing Gibble is looking forward to is polishing off his clubs, and working on his golf game next spring. He's definitely been an ace for Buffalo Grove, and Gibble knows that no hobby will replace the relationships he built with Bison athletes.
"I'm going to miss the kids a lot," said Gibble, who will keep active by volunteering on the Bison football staff next season as well as continuing refereeing basketball. "I'll also miss the staff and people I got to work with. Buffalo Grove has just had so many neat kids, those are the things I will remember the most."