Nansemond River senior Sonnae Gibson's parents, Sonny and Tammy Gibson, look on as she signs to play basketball for Virginia Wesleyan College during a ceremony on Wednesday at Nansemond River High School.
Nansemond River senior Sonnae Gibson's parents, Sonny and Tammy Gibson, look on as she signs to play basketball for Virginia Wesleyan College during a ceremony on Wednesday at Nansemond River High School.

From a dream to reality

Published 9:46pm Thursday, May 16, 2013

Nansemond River senior Sonnae Gibson saw her endeavors bear fruit on Wednesday when she committed to play basketball at the next level for Virginia Wesleyan College during a signing ceremony at Nansemond River High School.

It was the culmination of a desire that Gibson had first developed eight years prior.

“It means that I have finally accomplished something in my life, and it feels like I’ve reached my goal, and it’s not a dream anymore, it’s actually in real life, so I feel really proud of myself for pushing so hard,” she said.

Her family, many of her Lady Warriors teammates and Nansemond River head coach R. Calvin Mason were on hand for the event.

One thing that attracted Gibson to become a member of the Virginia Wesleyan Marlins was meeting the team and finding something familiar about it.

“It felt like a big family to me, and it felt like my Warrior family, and now I have a Marlin family,” she said.

Gibson’s mother, Tammy, reflected on the time and energy that she, her husband, James “Sonny” Gibson and Sonnae invested over the years.

“We spent our life in the gym,” she said. “We didn’t have a weekend until last year; we decided not to do (Amateur Athletic Union) basketball. We actually spent a lot of time in the gym, we spent a lot of time crying, we spent a lot of time in urgent care, so it’s been a journey.”

The urgent care visits came from different injuries that Gibson sustained over the course of games and practices.

“She’s had a concussion,” her mother said. “She’s had some banged up knees…”

“…Bruised ribs,” Sonnae added.

“So, she plays hard, she plays hard in the post,” Tammy Gibson said.

She shared what it was like to know that all the sacrifices led to her signing.

“I’m very thankful,” she said. “We thank God for everything. We thank God for her not giving up, and I’m just proud to be her mom.”

“I’m very proud to be her father,” Sonny Gibson said. “The dream is over now, it’s reality, and we thank God for all that He has put us through for her to reach this great moment of college basketball. We’re looking forward to seeing her play and to being a good family to Virginia Wesleyan.”

Tammy Gibson also had special praise for Mason, who she said “has been the absolute best, from the moment we set foot in this school.”

During the ceremony, Sonnae Gibson jokingly thanked Mason for pushing her to tears all the time, but her mother credited him for seeing “something that I didn’t even see in her.”

Mason said there was a time he was not sure if Gibson would play college basketball, but she erased those doubts during the off-season between her junior and senior year.

“She came and she asked me, did I think she could play college basketball, and I told her yes, I thought so, but then she would have to do a couple things different,” he said. “Number one, she had to work harder, which she really did, and she had to be a little bit more committed to it. And she did those things, and the results speak for themselves.”

Mason said Gibson will bring a strong rebounding presence to the Marlins team, as well as some less tangible benefits.

She has a “great nose for the ball, and she’ll be a disciplined person,” he said. “I think she’ll bring some energy to the team.”

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