Qyemah Gibson, a 6’5” forward from The Bahamas, is one of those collegiate athletes who decided to stay put this COVID-19 stricken period and help out in the community in which he resides.
The second-year swingman for the Saint Mary’s Huskies men’s basketball team recently made national headlines in Canada for his selfless work in Halifax and the surrounding areas this summer. Gibson, along with his teammate Lyon McLean, of Canada, and assistant coach Mat MacDonald, have been visiting the various communities, going around from court to court, training the kids across the municipality.
They have been teaching the young players in the respective areas basketball skills, while at the same time appealing to the school and raising donations to renovate the courts. Up to the time of this article, they had already purchased 40 new nets, purchased rims and assisted in fixing the courts by having the cracks in the cement sealed and having more garbage cans installed.
Gibson said the nets in particular go a long way in building a player’s confidence.
“No one wants to play on a naked rim. When you see the ball go through, you want to hear it swish. That gives you that confidence,” he said. “To me, this is bigger than basketball. To be able to lend a helping hand to those in need is something that I embrace with the position that I am in. As simple as going around putting up basketball nets could go a long way. This is a great opportunity to show kindness and it’s exactly what the world needs right now during this pandemic. It’s a joy to help train these kids and show them that someone out there cares about them and that it is not all about ourselves. They need to understand that people want to help them and see them succeed,” he added.
With the COVID-19 pandemic forcing restrictions all over the globe, inclusive of collegiate venues all across North America, Gibson and the Huskies have had no access to their home court and training base. Hence, the trio of MacDonald, Gibson and McLean has hit the road.
Gibson really blossomed as a full-time starter for the Huskies this season, raising his scoring average by nearly 10 points per game and developing into an all-star forward in the Atlantic University Sport (AUS) – a regional membership body for universities in Atlantic Canada. He averaged 15.7 points and 6.5 rebounds per game while shooting 41.3 percent from the field and 35 percent from distance. Gibson was second on the team and finished seventh in the AUS in scoring this season. Gibson’s best game of the season came on January 10 in a 91-77 home win over the University of Prince Edward Island (UPEI) Panthers in which he exploded for a game-high 27 points on 11-for-14 shooting. Gibson showed his outside touch in that game as he shot 5-for-7 from three-point land.
The Huskies finished with an 11-9 win/loss record in the regular season, and fell to the top-seeded Dalhousie Tigers in the AUS Men’s Basketball Tournament Semifinals.
Gibson said he feels privileged to be able to come from The Bahamas and have an opportunity to play college basketball in a foreign country. He said he is honored to be able to give back to the game through teaching and training others and assisting in the upkeep of basketball courts in a collegiate environment.
“From having a lil’ bit of success in the city, a lot of kids look up to me, so when they see me on the outside courts that gives them some motivation and encouragement to come out and train,” said the aspiring professional player. “Overall, this is a great opportunity for me to give back to a country that welcomed me with open arms. Everywhere I go here, people treat me as their own, and I am so appreciative of that,” he added.
Gibson said the community outreach program has helped him to maintain fitness during the pandemic, and he also goes jogging and engages in private workouts.
As opposed to returning home this summer, he will stay in Halifax and prepare for his third season with the Saint Mary’s Huskies. He is joined on the Huskies’ roster by fellow Bahamian Sebastian Gray, and another Bahamian, Ollen Smith, who serves as an assistant coach.