Garrett College’s Head Men’s Basketball Coach Dennis Gibson, earned his 700th career win on February 24th, 2021 with a double-overtime 107-100 victory against arch-rival Allegany College of Maryland on the road at Bob Kirk Arena.
“To have 700 wins at this level of play and in our location just shows the commitment from players, assistant coaches, fellow coaches, and friends of the Lakers over all these years,” Gibson said. “I can’t name everyone here, [but] I hope they read this and know that without them this never happens. So 700 wins goes to a lot more people than me.”
For the past 36 years, Gibson has served as the head men’s basketball coach, golf coach, and athletic director for Garrett College.
“Reaching 700 wins is an incredible achievement all by itself,” said Garrett College President Richard Midcap. “What makes Dennis’ on-court successes even more impressive is the way he’s achieved them. He’s always had his players’ best interests at heart, with their academic success as the top priority. Dennis’ record is proof that you can win without sacrificing either academic integrity or the long-term interests of your players.”
In 1972-1974, he played men’s basketball for the Garrett Lakers under Dr. Dennis Fearnow. Although he did play basketball in high school, Gibson earned a spot on Garrett’s first team his freshman year and was a starter as a sophomore, helping the Lakers to a 17-9 record.
After graduating from Garrett College, Gibson attended Bridgewater College (Virginia) where he earned Second Team All-Old Dominion Athletic Conference honors. After college, he played a short time with the Baltimore Metros of the Continental Basketball Association (CBA).
Gibson began his coaching career at Garrett College in 1978, serving six years as an assistant, while working at his family’s business, and completing his undergraduate degree at West Virginia University.
In 1985, he accepted the head coach position and has been at the helm ever since, leading the Lakers to a 700-395 (.639) overall record, with three trips to the NJCAA Men’s Basketball Championship Tournament, two Region XX titles, and a Maryland JUCO Conference championship.
“I had a great group of players during my first season as head coach that my good friend, and former head coach Tom Bosley, helped me recruit,” Gibson said. “I could not have started without his guidance. Those were tough times for me in terms of learning and building a team despite my previous six years as an assistant.”
According to Gibson, his most memorable memories over the years are the players, family, and friends who have helped him along the way.
“There is no winning success without the countless individuals who doubled as assistant coaches, scorekeepers, van drivers, fundraisers, cookie makers, etc.,” said Gibson. “They should all be recognized as much as me, but the list is too long to give all the names. Paul Mullan, announcer and great friend of the Lakers has been there from day one. And, I always must mention Dave Martin, assistant coach, as he would and still is supporting all of us and making us laugh from above.”
The Lakers first Region XX championship under Gibson’s leadership came during the 1994-1995 season, as his team also captured the Maryland JUCO Tournament title. That same season, Garrett finished sixth at the NJCAA National Tournament.
“Our first trip to the NJCAA National Tournament in Danville with the ’94 team was exciting and interesting. We opened up against the top team in the country and I was proud of our group of guys for their effort despite the odds,” Gibson stated.
Garrett won its first Division I Region XX championship in 2002-2003 and returned to the NJCAA National Tournament during the 2013-2014 and 2014-2015 seasons.
In May 2015, Gibson, alongside his former head coach Dr. Fearnow, was inducted into the inaugural class of the Garrett College Athletics Hall of Fame. In 2016, Gibson was elected to the NJCAA Men’s Basketball Hall of Fame.
Additionally, Gibson coached women’s basketball for seven years concurrently with the men’s team. The women’s teams made it to the championship of the MDJUCO tournament once.
“I have won and lost in both some of the most challenging situations,” noted Gibson. “Our women’s team made it to the MDJUCO championship tournament under the leadership of our own Marcia Knepp – that was a very exciting and memorable moment for me.”
Gibson continues to make a lasting impact on student athletes, having coached numerous students that made All-American, All-Region XX and All MDJUCO selection honors. He also coached Garrett College’s first ever Kodak All American athlete, Michelle Duling.
“700 is a very high number of wins, but it pales in comparison to the lives he has affected in a very positive way,” said Paul Mullan, the voice of the Garrett College Lakers. “He is loyal to his college, his program and his players. I’m proud to call him my friend.”
“I am just as proud of all of our former players and the All-Americans, just as I am the team contributors,” noted Gibson. “If anyone truly understands recruiting and providing academic success for our recruiting base, coming to rural Garrett College in a location such as Garrett County, they know the challenges presented to non-scholarship teams that we have to overcome as coaches.”
“I still hear from many of my former players and that is the very best part.”
Gibson and his wife Kerry reside in McHenry, Maryland. All three of their children, Jeseca, Kory, and Matthew, are Garrett College graduates.