Team of the Week: Gibb-Crabb
LAUSANNE, Switzerland, October 13, 2020 - There is no feeling
sorry for Jake Gibb. The 44-year-old has enjoyed one of the most
brilliant beach volleyball careers of any American. One that has
resulted in numerous victories, an entire world travelled, and,
truth be told, one which neither he nor his wife, Jane, ever
really expected him to have.
They’d agreed on a two-year
deal, he and Jane, when the young newlyweds moved from Utah to
Southern California 2002. Gibb would pursue beach volleyball
full-time. Jane would work multiple jobs while her husband went
to the beach.
“If I can make a living after
two years, let’s stick with it. If not, let’s go into the
business world and I’ll be a normal career man,” Gibb said in a
previous interview. “I had an unrealistic view of what the AVP
[Tour] was. I just kinda thought if you were a minor draw
player, you’d be earning a living. If I knew the reality of it I
don’t think I would have moved out. There was no way I would
have thought I’d be a three-time Olympian and whatever.”
That two-year deal has since
become a nearly two-decade one, a delightfully unexpected epoch
that has included 43 wins, three Olympic Games, and status as
one of the most dominant blockers the United States has ever
So no, he does not expect, or
want, anyone to feel sorry for him, or the fact that his
retirement was postponed this year. He was hanging it up after
the Tokyo Olympics. He knew it. His partner, Taylor Crabb, knew
it. His coach, Rich Lambourne, knew it.
Most importantly, his family, which includes his wife and two
kids, Cora and Crosby, knew it.
“It definitely rattled me,” he said. “I was looking forward to
being done. I was looking forward to spending summers with my
family and it feels like the right time. To reset and take on
another year was hard, but at the same time, I get to play the
sport I love. I’m not asking anybody to feel sorry for me.”
So he and Crabb are pressing
onwards. In two very different styles, of course. Crabb is just
28, Gibb 44. While Gibb has spent the majority of this year –
aside from the four weeks of the AVP Champions Cup -- working
with his strength coach, determining how best to keep his body
fresh for the 2021 season he didn’t anticipate playing, Crabb is
competing in virtually every tournament he can find.
Crabb recently won a King of the
Beach, put on by his good friends and fellow players Riley and
Maddison McKibbin, in Hermosa Beach. A few days later, he hopped
on a flight to Greenville, South Carolina, to compete in a grass
While Gibb is working on
eccentric squats in the weight room, Crabb is competing again,
this time with rival and good friend, Nick Lucena, in a
tournament in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina.
“Taylor is going from 27 to 28
years old. I’m going from 44 to 45, that’s significant,” Gibb
said, laughing. “It’s hard for me to deny that. But it’s just
more work for me to keep myself as in shape as possible. It’s
just a bigger challenge.”
In 20 years, the challenges have
never once bested Gibb. Testicular cancer? Beat it. Melanoma?
Beat that, too. Best teams in the world? Beat all of them, too.
What’s another year playing the
sport he loves, with the team that’s become basically family?
“I love seeing different
cultures, I love everything from enjoying different coffees to
different cuisines,” he said. “I have my favuorite restaurants I
go to. I love that part of it. We go to the coolest places in
One last time, then, he’s hoping to go to Tokyo. One final
Olympic Games. Currently, he and Crabb are in the driver’s seat
for the U.S., ranked eighth in the world and No. 1 among the
Americans. The last international tournament they played, the
Chetumal 4-star in November, was also their first medal, and
win, as a team, as they defeated the Netherlands’ Alex Brouwer
and Robert Meeuwsen.
So yeah, one more year of medals, of travelling the world, of
sipping coffee and representing his country, isn’t the worst of
alternatives to retirement. At this point, it’s just a waiting
game until the schedule is released. More lifting. More reps.
More of maintaining his body in peak physical condition.
“I need to keep testing my
body,” Gibb said. “What we’re doing is, we’re doing little
training blocks, and we’re treating it like it’s preseason
training. We’re picking things we want to work on and training
those things, but we’re doing it in two and four and five week
period of times, then we take a few weeks off then we do the
same thing again.”
One last preseason training
One last Olympic push.
One last blessed season in the
indelible career of Jake Spiker Gibb.