A.J. Gibson

Writer, Producer, Model, Athlete

essays I've edited

WHAT HAPPENED WHEN I TRIED TO PLAY MEN’S PROFESSIONAL SOCCER

When you’re the only woman playing on a men’s pro soccer team, and you also happen to be a goalkeeper, here’s how things go down [Cont.]

No excuses

“Here, take my things.”

That’s the last thing I said before I kicked this kid’s ass. [Cont.]

FIVE THINGS YOU SHOULD KNOW ABOUT BEING A FIRST-TIME OLYMPIAN

The morning they came to my door, I didn’t hear them knocking.

I was sound asleep in my dorm room in the Rio Olympic Village, trying to get in my eight hours before the 100-meter backstroke finals. I had trained 17 years for my Olympic opportunity, and I was one of the favorites to win the gold in that event. I wanted to be fully rested for my race.

I had it all planned out. I was going to wake up with enough time to go through the routine I’ve been following for as long as I can remember, one that I’ve found works for me: eat my peanut butter and jelly, get to the pool early, stretch, swim some laps, practice my flip turns….

But sometimes things don’t go according to plan. [Cont.]

FEELING GOOD AGAIN

You should’ve seen my grandma when I told her that I wasn’t going to play in the WNBA last year.

It was like she’d just found out that her favorite television show had been canceled.

Actually, no, it wasn’t like that — that’s what it was. [...]

ANATOMY OF A STUDENT ATHLETE

It’s interesting, the difference between hearing about something and seeing it for yourself. I remember thinking that during an anatomy lab last month. As a premed student in my senior year at Duke, I’ve taken a fair number of difficult classes. But Anatomy 333L turned out to be one of the toughest of my four years. It was also the most fascinating.

Some people might get queasy at the sight of a cadaver, but I was captivated. It is mesmerizing to be able to see the more than 650 muscles that make up the human body. Bodies are made up of thousands of parts, and most important, are home to the soul.

That class has really stuck with me. Beneath the surface we are all so complex. There’s so much we don’t see. [...]

DIY

Where I grew up, football wasn’t a big deal.

Unless you meant Australian Rules football, which most certainly was a big deal. But football football? What some folks call soccer? Not at all.

I grew up in Adelaide, Australia. My parents didn’t play, my grandparents didn’t play, and nobody in my family had any clue about football. Yet somehow it became the center of my life. I played on the Australian national team. I was one of the first few women on the FIFA executive committee. I’ve had some strange and priceless adventures, both on and off the field [...]  

IF I SHOULD DIE

Sometimes around the holidays, I think about the times my father had to drug me just to get me home for Christmas.

This is embarrassing to admit, but that was our arrangement. With my mind the way it was, it was the only way to get me into the car [...]