Character Counts for Coach Zane Gibson
For the first time in five years, Zane Gibson returns to the University of Arkansas – Fort Smith to don the Lions’ blue and white. His return is a shift of just 18 inches but comes with the responsibility of being the UAFS men’s basketball head coach.
“When you slide down from the assistant coach chair to the head coach chair, it’s like going from here to Mars,” Gibson laughed. “You go from being a guy that can walk into the office and make suggestions to the guy that has to make all the decisions.”
Gibson is a college coach’s son who was a player and graduate assistant at Middle Tennessee State and an assistant coach at UAFS. He paid his coaching dues by wearing out dry-erase markers on the bench before getting a shot at the next level.
As head coach at Western New Mexico for three years, he quickly helped turn around the program. However, a familiar coaching vacancy was too hard to resist.
“I’m from Chattanooga,” Gibson said. “I couldn’t pass up being closer to home. And you know, having a lot of positive history here, knowing a lot of the people, and having a good feel for how the community works, I really wanted to take on this opportunity.”
Gibson was named the UAFS men’s basketball head coach on April 7, 2023. Now he plans to bring a winning culture back to the Gayle Kaundart Arena at the Stubblefield Center.
“There’s nothing more special in college athletics than cutting down a net,” Gibson smiled. “I’ve been a part of a few special Lion’s teams in the past that were able to climb the ladder and do just that. We want to do that again.”
With returning players Payton Brown and Cameron Bush, Gibson looks to build off their experience and success in the Lone Star Conference to give fans something to look forward to. He also hit the recruiting trail hard over the summer, including summer camps at which Gibson hoped to plant the seed for players to choose UAFS.
However, he says it won’t just be talent that is evaluated and recruited.
“I don’t know exactly what the makeup of the team will be when it’s all said and done. What I do know is that there will be good people representing our program and hopefully good basketball players – and in that order. We’re going to do everything in our power to make sure we’re bringing in really good people to represent Arkansas, Fort Smith.”
Gibson believes character will have the greatest impact on campus, and he and his staff will work to instill in their players so that “they can teach the next wave of guys coming in.”
But it’s not just the culture Gibson brings to UAFS that sets the team and university apart.
“You don’t want to be at a place where being OK is acceptable,” Gibson stated. “You want to be at a place where you are absolutely chasing the ultimate prize, and I think you can do that here at UAFS. It’s been proven in the past, and I hope to prove it again.”
When November rolls around, as Gibson takes a seat in the head coach chair and his team of Lions take the court, each player will be playing to represent the community, and Gibson wants every fan to know, “We are going to go out there and outwork everybody.”
The UAFS Office of Communications fields all media inquiries for the university. Email Rachel.Putman@uafs.edu for more information.Send an Email
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Rachel Rodemann Putman
- Director of Strategic Communications