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Bell TowerOctober 04, 2023

High-Five Fridays

When Zane Gibson returned to the University of Arkansas – Fort Smith, he did so with a mission to reinvigorate the UAFS basketball program and the excitement in the community.

“It’s important for us always to be ambassadors of the game,” Gibson explained.

Starting at the beginning of April didn’t give Gibson much time to get settled before the semester’s end, but he hit the ground running when it came to community outreach.

On Fridays, Gibson and his pack of Lions roamed the plains of Fort Smith, not in search of a meal or the shade to cool off as the days began to warm up. Instead, they formed a line in front of Fort Smith elementary school doors. They were not making assists on the court but dishing out smiles and high-fives every Friday morning.

Leading the way, Gibson calls himself a “go-doer” and was eager to “go out there and extend my hand” for what was aptly named High-Five Fridays. Returning guard Payton Brown was part of those friendly Friday mornings and sees the mark his new coach and the team have made in the community, starting with its youngest members.

“This is their hometown,” Payton said. “Getting out in the community more and showing that we care and showing that we’re going to put in the work for everybody in this community – hopefully, more people will support us again.”

In sports, high-fives are an act of celebration, a physical “good job,” and a connection shared between two people for a single moment. You might not remember every high-five given or received in life, but the kids of the Fort Smith community are sure to remember their Friday morning high-fives whenever they see the UAFS Lions.

With school back in session, Gibson and his pack of Lions will return to the community, serving smiles and handing out high-fives for Fort Smith kids.

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Rachel Rodemann Putman

  • Director of Strategic Communications
  • 479-788-7132
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