CINCINNATI, Ohio - Throughout the coming months, the Mount St. Joseph University athletics department will be highlighting senior student-athletes who had their senior seasons cut short due to the COVID-19 (coronavirus) pandemic.

Today's senior is Kayla Gibson of the Mount St. Joseph University women's track and field team. Kayla came to The Mount from Reading High School in Reading, Ohio. During her time at The Mount she has competed in many of the different throwing disciplines for Coach Blakely and the Lions.

What is your Major?

My major is Inclusive Early Childhood Education. I am currently finishing up my education degree with Student Teaching in the Oak Hills School District.

What has been your favorite class at The Mount? And Why?

I have enjoyed many classes during my time at the Mount. I would say that the education department makes it extremely hard to pick just one class as my favorite. I would say that I absolutely loved taking my inclusion classes with professor Shibinski. She got to know us on personal levels and got to know what kind of teachers we are going to be. She also did an amazing job at delivering the information needed in each course. Another class I enjoyed was my Methods of Teaching Science class with Beth VanWassenhove. Beth made this class hands on, we were constantly exploring science and ways to keep the students hands on in the classroom. I had so much fun in this class practicing science lessons, and learning different ways to incorporate science into my everyday classroom!

What is your favorite memory with your team?

There are so many memories that come to mind with my team. My absolute favorite memories that come to mind are from my freshman year! So our team has seemed to always have bad luck with our busses, every season since our freshman year. The first memory that comes to mind, involves one of our many runs with a broken-down bus. My freshman year, we had an indoor meet at Depauw Universtiy. Our itinerary said that we wouldn't get out until late, but the meet ended up getting out extremely early. So we packed up team camp, and went to the bus. When we got out to the bus to leave it was broken down. So Coach Tina had the entire team walk in the rain to this tiny pizza restaurant for dinner. After dinner, the bus was still broken down, and we had to wait on a new bus to come and get us from Cincinnati, so we walked to a bowling alley and the entire team bowled together. This was one of my very first ever experiences with the team, and one I will never forget! My second favorite memory is also from my freshman year. We were at our outdoor conference meet at Anderson University, and it stormed so bad that the meet had to stop for the day and resume the following day. Throwing events hadn't gotten very far, so this meant that the next day we would have to start even earlier than everyone else so that we could get all throwing events in. To make it easier for everyone, all of the throwers ended up staying the night at a teammates house (Kiersten Lux,) because her house was much closer than MSJ. Although we were all muddy and gross from the rain, this "throwers sleepover," was still a ton of fun, and a great way to bond with my teammates!

What are your post-Graduation plans?

I plan to become an Early Childhood teacher in a local elementary school. I would love to teach in a kindergarten or first grade classroom!

Do you see yourself taking the NCAA waiver and competing in 2021?

I'm not ready to give up throwing. I have one season left, and I've made so many gains since my last throw my junior year. So, I would absolutely love to continue competing and finish up with my last season of eligibility. But, realistically I am going to be a first year teacher, and haven't planned on coming back for any classes, so I'm not sure if I will. As of right now, my answer to this question would be that you never know what the future holds. Life has a funny way of working out, so if I get to compete again I will be thrilled and will work harder than I ever have before. If I don't then I'll put all my focus into teaching, and I will forsure be there to support my teammates as they compete again next season!

What is your message to underclassmen on the impact of COVID-19?

Don't take anything or anyone for granted. The future can change in a blink of an eye, but your experiences, memories, friends, teammates, coaches, professors, etc. will forever be the same. Cherish your time competing, and cherish the people you have around you. I never once thought that my senior year would end before I was ready for it to. You never know when something like this could happen, so make sure that you don't take any of it for granted.

Who would you like to thank for helping you on your journey to graduation? (family, professors, coaches, advisors)

There are so many people that I would love to thank for helping me along my journey to graduation. First, Coach Tina Blakley and the rest of her coaching staff. Coach Tina has truly been one of my biggest supporters throughout my journey at the Mount. She has constantly checked in on me, asking about classes, grades, and teaching hours. Next, my parents. Without my parents I wouldn't be where I am. They have always supported me in my academics and athletics, and have always pushed me to be the best person I can be.  Lastly, to my teammates and friends. You guys are the people that kept me going. You guys pushed me to challenge myself in both academics and athletics. Without you guys, I wouldn't be where I am today, and for that I am forever grateful.