BY: CELIA M.
On September 8, 2007, Sergeant Gavin James Sibayan’s life was changed forever. While on deployment in Iraq with the U.S. Army, he was the gunner for his squad when he was hit by a third improvised explosive device (IED) in thirty days. Despite being knocked unconscious for approximately 30 seconds, with shrapnel in the left side of his head, Sibayan managed to get it together and started to fire. It would not be until two weeks later, when he was medevaced to Tule, Germany for extreme headaches, that the severity of his head injury would be discovered.
Soon after retiring, he contacted the U.S. Paralympic National Team, and has been playing soccer with them ever since. In 2014, Sibayan was voted 2014 U.S. Soccer Disabled Athlete of the Year. Now he’s in Toronto playing midfield at the 2015 Para Pan AM Games for Team USA.
The field in which Sibayan serves and represents his country may be different but, his continued love, respect, and dedication for his country remains strong. Gavin Sibayan is a hero no matter the field and a true inspiration to all.
Thanks to the wonderful world of Internet and email I had the distinct of honour of posing some questions to Gavin:
CM: Can you talk about what it means to you to be competing in Canada for the Parapan AM Games?
GS: It means a lot to me to make the roster for the Para Pan AM Games and to have a chance to represent my country. Every time I put on the jersey with the U.S. crest on it, it feels like putting on my ARMY uniform and going to work for the United States again.
CM: Are you able to have friends/ family watch you compete? Who is coming?
GS: My family will be watching online and my dad and aunt are coming to Canada to watch me play.
CM: Can you describe what it is about your sport that you love?
GS: I love the thrill of competition, playing with a team of talented players and friends – that makes it even better.
CM: Can you talk about your typical training day?
GS: In camp, we train twice a day, the morning session is ball skills and movements and the afternoon session is games and movements. At home I practice at Red line Athletics where I have a personal trainer who works with me on ball skills. Then I have another trainer who works with me on mobility, strength and conditioning. I practice at least three hours per day and it’s great doing something I love.
CM: Would you say there are challenges specific to brain injury that you have to deal with as an elite athlete? If so, what would these challenges be?
GS: The challenges that I have would be balance, feet coordination – these two are the big ones.
CM: It’s often said that elite athletes are inspiring – and it’s true. Do you have advice or a message you’d like to pass on to aspiring Para athletes?
GS: No matter what challenges you face in life you can always adapt and overcome them and drive on. They might be hard, but if you dig deep down you can strive to be the best athlete out there.
Celia is an ABI survivor who is dedicated to helping others move forward in their journey and live the life they dream of. She is the founder of the internationally read blog High Heeled Life – inspiration for living a luxurious and balanced life; featured author in Soulful Relationships part of the best-selling series Adventures in Manifesting; a Peer Mentor with BIST; a regular speaker for Canadian Blood Services – Speakers Bureau; certified Life Coach, certified Law of Attraction Practitioner and currently working on her Mind Calm Meditation certification. Learn more about Celia and be inspired: visit www.HighHeeledLife.com or www.CeliaMLifeCoach.com