Sophomore Regal Naomi Gipson just finished her first full basketball season since playing in her first year of high school. Despite having torn her ACL twice, Gipson is ready to continue moving forward and thrive on the court.
Gipson grew up in San Diego, California, and began playing basketball around third grade. Since then, she carried on to play club basketball in middle school, varsity basketball for the entirety of high school, and now college basketball.
Her knee injuries have taken a toll on her, but Gipson has been working her way back onto the court.
“The fact that I was able to come back from two ACL injuries, in less than a year apart, and then still play college basketball is a really big achievement because that’s not only a physical struggle. I still struggle every day with pain, but the mental aspect of that—you can’t really ever describe to someone how difficult it is,” Gipson said.
In spite of the fact that Gipson tore her ACL at the end of her senior year in high school, she was awarded First Team All-League, All California Interscholastic Federation (CIF) Second Team, and Palomar Player of the Year in 2020.
Gipson’s teammate Grace Godines praised her ability to rise above adversity and return from two difficult injuries.
“It speaks to her character, how she is as a person, and what she can overcome,” Godines said.
Gipson said that one of the vital components her team worked on this season was trust and the importance of trusting one another on and off the court.
Along with trustful relationships with her teammates, she highlighted the value of “coming in every day and giving your 100%,” because “whatever you’re doing during practice is gonna translate to the game,” Gipson said.
Head Women’s Basketball Coach Kelli DiMuro spoke highly of Gipson and emphasized the significance of teammate relationships as well.
“I feel like chemistry, a desire to win like no other, a love for basketball, and the bond that they have with their teammates is really important to me. I think she fits into that perfectly and is a dynamic character. She has a leadership quality about her that is gonna push us to go far,” DiMuro said.
DiMuro described Gipson as always being upbeat, and Godines also said she is continually energetic and a go-getter.
“She always starts the cheers, and she’s always there for you if you need it on and off the court,” Godines said.
Gipson said she would like to advance her skills as a forward, continue to work on her shot, and remain disciplined on post moves and running the floor.
“Considering all the time that I’ve lost due to injury, I just have so much potential to grow. I want to refine myself as a player in the body that I have now and grow my relationships with my teammates,” Gipson said.
DiMuro said Gipson is consistently improving certain skills, and she noticed some of her greatest strengths to be her footwork in the key, defensive rebounding, and shot-blocking.
The Regals recently played their final game of the season against Redlands, and despite the loss, Gipson said they displayed strong effort and that the seniors left a large impact on the team.
“I think that we played hard. I think we had a lot to overcome as a team this year, and even though we lost, I’m really proud of the team,” Gipson said.
As Gipson expressed her hopes for the following seasons, she said looked forward to getting stronger so she can enhance what she can do as a player.
“I love my teammates. We’re a very young team, so we have a lot of room to grow, and I think that’s really exciting because we have a bright future ahead of us,” Gipson said.