More Than A Game: Sports, extracurriculars helped Soraya Gibbs grow

Steel Valley senior Soraya Gibbs leans against a locker for a portrait

As she prepared for her senior year on the soccer field and in the classroom, Soraya Gibbs tried to envision how it all might play out. What kind of impact would she have on the soccer team? What would her options look like for college? 

In the span of a few weeks in November, everything fell into place.

Thanks, in part, to Gibbs’ 31 goals throughout the season, Steel Valley won the first WPIAL championship in school history on November 5. A couple of weeks later, Gibbs’ college future came into focus when she signed a National Letter of Intent with California University of Pennsylvania. 

For the first time in months, Gibbs could take a deep breath.

“The first few months, I'm not going to lie, were pretty hard,” she said just after signing her letter of intent. “I was still trying to get recruited. I was deciding between two schools literally last week. It was a lot at first, but now, there's still some nerves but it progressively got better through the season.”

Gibbs scored 60 goals over the course of her soccer career at Steel Valley, but her prowess on the pitch was only one portion of the offer from Cal U. A gifted student, Gibbs is taking a Calculus 2 course through a partnership with CCAC. Inspired by the television show “Criminal Minds”, Gibbs placed an emphasis on high level mathematics and sciences courses because she hopes to become a forensic computer analyst. 

“I didn't want to go to a strict mathematic major because you can't really get a career of that,” she said. “I'm trying to eventually hopefully minor in criminal justice or pre-law because I want to be a forensic computer analyst.”

Gibbs is also the co-president of SADD, the co-president of student council, a member of the French Club and in the National Honors Society. That combination of academic, extracurricular and athletic success resulted in a full scholarship.

“It was really stressing me out,” Gibbs said of her college choice. “I was between two good colleges. I couldn't figure it out and then I got a full ride scholarship. And that told me which college to go to.”

Extracurricular activities like SADD and student council left an indelible impact on her.

“I've always been kind of a shy person, and it really helped me kind of get out there, talk to more people - even in my senior class, some people I didn't used to be friends with I'm friends with now because of the clubs I'm involved in,” she said. 

On the soccer field, no moment was bigger for Gibbs and her teammates than winning the WPIAL championship. Gibbs tied the game with less than five minutes to go in regulation. Steel Valley won the game in overtime to give the program its first WPIAL title.

“It's definitely been a ride,” Gibbs said. “We did something that we thought we were going to be able to do, but once we did it, it was just more overwhelming than we expected.” 

Steel Valley senior Soraya Gibbs leans against a locker for a portrait

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