Skates or cleats? Gibson brothers finding own paths The Chandler Arizonan

Skates or cleats? Gibson brothers finding own paths

October 6th, 2020 Chandler Arizona Staff
Skates or cleats? Gibson brothers finding own paths
Sports
0

By Zach Alvira
Arizonan Sports Editor

Kellen and Cayden Gibson admittedly don’t have much free time.

If the two aren’t on the gridiron with Arizona College Prep’s varsity football team, they can often be found on the ice playing double-A club hockey. Sometimes, they can even be found on the wrestling mat or practicing discuss and shot-put throws.

But when all else fails, they’re likely navigating their way through rigorous course loads as part of ACP’s curriculum.

“It’s definitely tough, time management is a big part of it,” Kellen said. “I was still doing travel my freshman year, so I would have a workout for football then be on the ice for hockey. I just had to find a time for homework any chance I got.

“I think my brother will have to figure that out, too.”

Kellen, a senior linebacker for the Knights, has emerged as a captain and among the several players now receiving attention from college programs. Cayden, while only a freshman, mirrors his older brother’s 6-foot-2 frame from the defensive end position.

The two didn’t start playing football until they entered high school. Their first love while growing up in Anchorage, Alaska always involved ice skates and hockey pucks. Even when they moved to the Valley in 2012, their love for hockey carried on.

The two play at the double-A level in the Junior Coyotes club organization. Practices take place at the Ice Den in Chandler.

They previously competed at the triple-A level, which is among the highest for club hockey. It involves traveling out of state for games at least once a month, often playing teams from states nearby and on occasion, some from the East Coast, where Cayden says most of the talent is for the sport.

“In order to really progress super far in hockey, you have to go to the East Coast,” Cayden said. “That’s where all the talent is and that’s where you will get noticed.”

Kellen began playing hockey at the triple-A level when he was in the eighth grade. That level of hockey is the highest for players in the high school age group. Once he began playing football at ACP, however, he realized the demand was too high to continue and compete in other sports.

After dropping down a division to double-A, his love for football grew. Still a four-sport athlete with football, wrestling, hockey and track and field, he’s beginning to find himself put hockey on the backburner a bit in favor of pursuing a collegiate football career.

“Just looking at all the opportunities with football, I knew I had to try it out,” Kellen said. “I knew I couldn’t play football and then immediately travel for triple-A hockey. I dropped down a level to still play competitively as a way to kind of keep that door open just in case.”

Cayden, however, hasn’t quite made the transition like his brother.

He missed the first two Monday’s of official practice for the Knights to skate in front of coaches for the same club as Kellen. Their parents have always imagined them playing on the same team in any sport, and despite them being four years a part in age, they have that opportunity this season.

As for his favorite sport, he still favors hockey.

“I would probably say hockey is still my favorite,” Cayden said. “First of all, it’s cool. It’s indoors. When I play I just feel free. I think it’s the speed of the game. It’s a team sport but there’s no other feeling than when you score a goal in hockey.”

ACP head football coach Myron Blueford expects both Kellen and Cayden to make a dramatic impact this season for the Knights. Blueford knows what to expect from Kellen, who was the starting middle linebacker last season.

While he was slightly unsure of what to expect from Cayden heading into summer workouts, Blueford’s confidence in the freshman becoming an impact player right away for the Knights has grown. He’s shown constant improvement on a daily basis and adds depth to a defense that already returns some of the most talented players in the state, let alone the 3A Conference.

“When Cayden walks in, he doesn’t look like a freshman,” Blueford said. “Kellen set the bar for this program when he came in. Now, Cayden has had the chance to look up to that and realize what it takes to get to his brother’s level in terms of college attention.”

Arizona College Prep opened the 2020 season on Friday against San Tan Foothills. Ahead of the game, the Gibson brothers expressed their excitement.

For Kellen, it was to have a chance to play his senior year after a summer of uncertainty due to the pandemic. For Cayden, it was his first shot at playing the sport at the highest level in high school.

But both also enjoy the fact they get to share the experience together.

“We’ve definitely gotten closer through all of this,” Kellen said. “It’s been fun so far. Just to help him see where he fits in with this team and learn the game, it’s awesome.”

Comments are closed.