Football, faith, and family. If you need to sum up Columbus Lions coach Jason Gibson, those three words can do it. Going on his 12th year of coaching the Lions, it’s more than just a job to this father of three. He’s created a community.
In the beginning, he did it all; from washing uniforms to balancing checkbooks. Now he has a larger supporting staff. And with this growth, came a lot of bragging rights too. Fifty-five players have left for the NFL. Winning over 100 games in the last ten years, the Columbus Lions are one of the top 3 arena football teams in the country. Needless to say, the Lions are well respected in the football community, and so is their coach.
When asked why he hasn’t left for the NFL himself, Jason admits he’s turned down some offers: “We’ve built a pretty good product here in Columbus and I am not handing the keys over to anyone else. It’s a great community and great place to be.” The Columbus Lions also hold an important role in Jason’s family history. He met his wife after a fan (now his mother-in-law) set him up on a blind date with her daughter. His father-in-law is actually one of the Lions’ biggest fans, traveling with Jason and the team to most of the away games.
Jason credits a lot of his success to his strong family unit, they’re at every home game. Not only is he at the office sunup to sundown or traveling with the team, but his phone is constantly ringing at home. His wife manages their three kids, ages 9, 6 and 2 while he’s away and his in-laws live right across the street for even more family support. When Jason’s not coaching the Columbus Lions, he’s coaching…at Phenix City’s Glenwood Christian School.
Sound exhausting? When asked why he took on the role, he felt it was his turn to give back:
“To be honest with you, there was a coach of mine, 30 years ago in high school, he didn’t owe anyone anything, but he got in a car, drove me 4 hours to West Virginia, and got me a scholarship and into college. I figured it was my turn. By going to the high school, I can use my connections with the Lions and give them a better opportunity.”
And he has. On a small team with 17 seniors, 9 of them signed football scholarships last year to renowned schools. He admits the second coaching job is a little stressful, “Yesterday I get a call from a scout. ‘Hey I’m at Glenwood to look at one of your players.’ I Jump in my car, drive to north Phenix City, meet the coach, get him the info he needs and goes back to the Lions office. Last year it happened 3 times in one day. I never say no. It’s for the kids.”
Jason and the Lions try to give back to the community in other ways too. “Every home game we write a check back to someone, that’s the goal,” according to Jason. So far this season they’ve donated to AFLAC Childhood Cancer, Wounded Warriors and Smith Station Elementary School.
Jason reminds readers, “A Columbus Lions football game is not the typical 18-27 year-old males drinking and partying experience. Its moms and families enjoying something to do that does not break their pocket and brings together the community” He continues, “After all, It’s the south! Football, family and faith. Live and breathe.”