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Courtney Gibson: Miami Southridge’s Young Phenomenon


One dictionary defines the phenomenon as “a person with phenomenal ability or promise” and phenomenal as “unusual in a way that is very impressive.”

Using those words to describe Courtney Gibson, a freshman or 9th grader at Miami Southridge High School in Florida would not be a stretch of the imagination by any means. Hardly a more fitting description could describe this 5’-7” student-athlete, who at 15 years old is leaping beyond 19 feet in the long jump with a personal record (PR) of 19’-5”? And if that is not enough, she also runs the 400m in 56secs.

Courtney, who has Jamaican roots through both her parents, said she has two life goals: to compete at the Olympics and to become a nurse. She shares that track and field has taught her that “hard work, determination and discipline will help to accomplish anything you set your mind to, even in the class room.”

Her mother, Marjorie James, noted that while Courtney’s accomplishments in the sport – as well as her collection of medals and trophies – are impressive, that which impresses her most is her academic 3.1 GPA (Grade Point Average), especially when she recalls how much Courtney struggled academically in middle school.

Miami Southridge High School track and field coach, Dja Dugue, also known as Coach D, speaks highly of Courtney’s tenacity in practice and in competition as well as her seemingly natural ability to make others around raise their game. Coach D recalls a recent competition in which Courtney was locked in a fierce battle with her teammate, Miami Southridge senior Dominique Bullock, the school’s top jumper, who is ranked Number One in the State of Florida. In the end, they both jumped their PRs, as Dominique emerged the winner with a PR of 19’-10.5”.

Coach D pointed out that “Courtney is one of the most naturally gifted and dynamic athletes I have ever seen or coached. Her enthusiasm, dedication, desire, the ease and fun in which she does things make her an absolute joy to coach. In explaining Courtney’s natural ability, Coach D recalled when a number of coaches and student-athletes were at the high jump area waiting around for the jumping mat (the sponge on which the jumper lands). Courtney, who never did high jump before – at least for the school or during any practice – casually told another athlete that she could clear the bar without using the mat. The athlete’s response was one of doubt as she blew off Courtney’s intention, but Courtney simply took a few steps backwards and with one big leap cleared the bar at 5ft. 3in.

“What made that jump so shocking and equally amazing,” Coach D said, “was that she jumped over the bar in scissors style, [feet first over the bar], and not the customary Fosbery Flop where jumper goes over the bar backwards).”

Remember the definition of phenomenon – “a person with phenomenal ability or promise”? That’s Courtney Gibson – young and gifted with a future as bright as her smile.

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