Titans 18U Kirk Gibson Commits to Rio Grande Red Storm in Ohio

by Jim Stewart

18U shortstop Kirk Gibson, whose famous MLB namesake set off offensive fireworks for the Tigers and Dodgers in 1980’s World Series games, ignited his own pyrotechnics for the Titans this week by announcing his commitment to play for the University of Rio Grande Red Storm.  The Owen Sound resident becomes the first Titan from the Class of 2022 to commit to a US College.

Red Storm Head Coach Brad Warnimont, recently inducted into the University of Rio Grande Hall of Fame, is in his twentieth season leading the southern Ohio squad and feels that Gibson will add value to his baseball program:  “Kirk is a very good athlete and has the skillset that competes.  He’ll join a young infield and will contribute to our success with his solid play and plus arm.”  Coach Warnimont believes that his school is successful in engaging freshman baseball players from Canada:  “The biggest thing we can do is make them feel welcome so they can settle into a family setting where they are expected to rise to the workload demands and expectations of our community.”  It was evident that Gibson was impressed during his visit to the NAIA school in southeastern Ohio:  “They run a very good baseball program, and when I was at Rio during the Fall College trip, I could tell that the environment that Coach Warnimont built was one I’d really like to be part of. They also have smaller class sizes which I’m anticipating will be good for extra help if needed for better understanding.”  The communicative environment to which Gibson refers was explained by Coach Warnimont:  “We use a grading chart to highlight special performances and efforts in order to challenge our players.  Our players’ efforts and active attendance are given daily feedback, based on the observational and evaluation skills of the entire coaching staff.”  The 34-year veteran coach elaborated on his current Red Storm squad and their prospects for 2022:  “We’re very young, but deep on the mound.  Our pitchers will be expected to carry us. We won’t have a great deal of power so we’ll use our team speed and play small ball where our players will be given opportunities to execute our in-game strategies.  We are picked to finish fourth in the Conference.  We’ll see.” 

Gibson, one of those young players who will join the program in 2022-23, is “looking forward to the Red Storm baseball culture. At Rio, it seems like everyone knows each other and the community is very close, so I’m looking forward to getting to know everyone and be part of that community.”  An Honor Roll student who graduated from Owen Sound District High School in June, Gibson has a law degree as his long-term academic goal. He will be enrolled in “Liberal Studies” at Rio in which “pre-Law courses” such as History, Psychology, Communications, Politics, and Philosophy can be studied. 

When asked about his academic and athletic goals at the University of Rio Grande, the 18U shortstop hopes to be “an impact player for Coach Warnimont and fit whatever role he needs me to play. As far as academics go, my goal is to maintain a 3.5 GPA or above.”  Gibson expressed compliments toward the Titans organization, especially his 18U Head Coach:  “Coach Bailey really helped me through the overwhelming process of committing to a school. Whenever I’d go to him with a concern, he got it resolved right away. Coach Graham and Coach Jim also helped me think about what next steps I need to be taking which pushed me towards the University of Rio Grande.”

Coach Bailey was equally complimentary towards his 18U middle infielder and offered insights into his Fall Ball production with the Titans as well as his athletic and academic future at Rio:  “This is a perfect fit.  From Day One of his tryout at SAC, we could see how Gibby would fit in perfectly with the 18U Titans program.  Going to Rio will allow Kirk to develop the skillset to thrive at the next level of baseball.”

Coach Bailey’s middle infielder reflected on his career as a Titan and re-stated the importance of the Titans’ nine-day, eight-night excursion through Michigan, New York, Maryland, West Virginia, and Ohio:  “My best moment was the Fall College trip we went on in October. Being around the guys was so much fun and seeing how the college baseball teams we played acted was very insightful.” Heading into his final season with the Titans, the 18U middle infielder offered this advice to the younger Titans:  “The advice I’d give to younger players is to learn how to balance school and baseball. You also never want someone to outwork you and effort is a real standout to coaches.”

Kirk Gibson is certainly a model student-athlete for the younger Titans to emulate.  Congratulations, Kirk, on your commitment to the University of Rio Grande in Ohio and we hope you have the same flare for the dramatic on the field for Coach Warnimont and the Red Storm as your famous MLB namesake had for the Tigers and Dodgers!