Gibbs Honored at Letterwinner Walk Ribbon Cutting Ceremony
Sept. 1, 2017

By Brian Scott Rippee, Ole MissSports.com 

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OXFORD, Miss. - Jake Gibbs lit up the stage under a tent just outside the north end zone of Vaught-Hemingway Stadium on Friday afternoon for the ribbon cutting ceremony celebrating the new Letterwinner Walk bearing his name.

"He is so full of energy," Ross Bjork, Vice Chancellor for Intercollegiate Athletics said. "At his age, to be around and to be full of life like that, I think we can all learn from that."

The new walk serves as the culmination of the Walk of Champions as well as the front door to Vaught-Hemingway Stadium. Over 5,000 names are engraved on the columns lining the walk of all the letterwinners in Ole Miss history.

"There is a lot of history. It is the culmination of a lot of planning and the great vision to recognize the past," Bjork said.  "We are only as good as who came before us. To be able to do something like this in a central place and to have a destination to tie it into campus makes a ton of sense."

The monument was a perfect opportunity to honor Gibbs, an Ole Miss legend who played both football and baseball for the Rebels. He helped Ole Miss win the 1961 Sugar Bowl over Rice as well as a share of the national championship that year.

"Outstanding," Gibbs said of the crowd. "Unbelievable. You can call it anything you want to. It was simply outstanding."

Gibbs told jokes and stories of his playing days with many of his former teammates in the crowd, and marveled at the new structure and the names on it.

"We never expected we would have something like this," Gibbs said. "I don't know who set this up or got the idea, but this is great. You letter here, you leave and get your name in the back of the book that you're a letterman, and that is as far as it goes. Now people can come in and say daddy played here or an uncle or whoever and find it. This is great to have. I am just happy we got it."


 

 

Bjork wants this new entrance to the stadium to serve as an attraction that connects Rebel fans to the great formers student-athletes at this school.

"I want people to come here on a Tuesday morning and take a picture of their family and put it on social media, or bring their family back because they saw this and they hadn't been back on campus for a long time," Bjork said. "That is it, to make connections and get people back. If this can be that attraction, then why not?"

The list of letterwinner names is the result of years of research by the Athletics Communications department and particularly staff member Joey Jones. While letterwinners have been well documented in the modern era, records of varsity athletes from the first half of the 20th century were poorly kept, and the communications staff was forced to rely primarily on Ole Miss yearbooks to confirm names.

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