It all started with a flyer, a trailer and a competition.
Ryder Gibson, a 9-year-old who has spina bifida, has received 47 medals — including two gold and one silver in basketball — in the seven years he’s competed at the Endeavor Games.
In the words of Gibson, it takes “practice and practice and practice.”
He works on dribbling and shooting drills, but in his downtime he also plays the video game Fortnite.
“I think my favorite is the default (character),” Gibson said.
He plays basketball against kids at school. When he’s at home, his parents help him practice on the living room floor.
“My dad always throws free throws,” Gibson said. “He misses 50% of them.”
His mom, Christi Gibson, who is a personal trainer, said when he was younger, Ryder didn’t like the gun fire at the beginning of a race in track.
“Dad would go with him to the starting line and I would be at the finish line,” she said.
There would be a warm embrace at the end of the race where Ryder would hug his mom. He ran against his own age group for some time, but then he eventually started to compete against the older competitors.
“He just beat everyone in his division,” Brian Gibson, his dad, said.
He is a coach for Ryder and volunteers for Oklahoma Adaptive Sports Association (OKASA). Brian coaches Ryder to not worry if someone pulls ahead. Ryder competes above his normal division. His dad and coach likes to remind him that he's racing against the clock — Ryder's in his own division.
A victory for Christi is the consistency of Ryder’s competitiveness even if he’s tired.
“I feel that he comes back every year, he gets faster and stronger,” she said. “It’s a long day, but he still gets out and does it.”
Brian said the family is naturally competitive — even from the day Ryder was born.
“It gives him a chance to be competitive,” he said.
According to Brian, the team practices track at Bishop McGuinness High School when the fields aren’t muddy or saturated.
Besides basketball and track, Ryder also competes in archery. Nobody knows how he signed up for the competition and they don’t practice archery.
“He shoots one arrow a year and it’s at Endeavor Games,” Christi said.
However, it’s not a one shot and done.
“One year there were two people who got bullseyes,” Brian said. “It was him and one of the older competitors.”
The family of three travels all over the country together and, because Ryder is an only child, they don’t have to give up quality time.
“It’s just him,” Christi said.