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Accepting the lead role
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Olivia Gibbs has enjoyed quite an exciting summer, and has literally defined what it means to excel on and off the basketball court.

Earlier this month, the eighth grader from Clements Middle School returned from Rochester, Minn., where she along with her team - the Atlanta Lady Celtics - competed in the AAU Girls Basketball (12 and under) National Championship.

Members of the Lady Celtics include players from College Park, DeKalb, Gwinnett and Jonesboro. But the 12-year-old Gibbs, who turns 13 in October, was the only player from Newton County.

During the tournament, Gibbs averaged 17 points, 18 rebounds and five assists per game.

Led by head coach Scot Waldrop, the Lady Celtics (6-2) finished ninth overall in the double-elimination tournament, which included 169 teams from all over the country.

However, it was the best finish by a 12-and-under team from Georgia in 10 years, when the Atlanta Lady Celtics also finished ninth, and the second consecutive year the team made it to nationals.

"It was fun," said Gibbs, a 5-foot-9 star performer for not only the Lady Celtics but also the Clements Wolverines. "(We) got to play against better competition and see other teams, which (gave) us good exposure. But it also let me see what I need to work on to improve my game."

Two of the victories came against national caliber programs, such as the New Jersey Sparks and the Oklahoma Select. And although the Illinois Elite Ice was the eventual champion, the Lady Celtics lost to that team by just two points in overtime.

During the regular season, the Lady Celtics were 37-12 and won three separate tournaments (Celtics Invitational, Atlanta SRT and the YBOA State Championship). Furthermore, they finished second overall at the Tennessee Miracle.

Temporarily setting basketball aside, Gibbs was recently selected by a panel of teachers to represent Clements for the 2008 Eisenhower Student Leadership Conference from June 23 to July 2 at UCLA in Los Angeles, Calif.

And should everything go well for her AAU team, Gibbs will attend nationals the following week after the leadership conference.

"I was very excited because it will be a very good experience," said Gibbs, "and I've never been to California. But I'm looking forward to learning (how) to become a better leader (on the court) and in life."

The classes will primarily focus on leadership, and will include several keynote speakers such as the president of the conference. Gibbs, along with other members of the leadership retreat, will reside in the dorms throughout the duration of the event.

Based on not only her positive attitude and remarkable personality, Gibbs was chosen to represent Clements due to a number of reasons, like her involvement with the school. For example, she is active in plays and enjoys doing volunteer work, such as tutoring other students.

Nor is Gibbs ashamed to ask a question in class if she does not understand something, and she enjoys helping fellow classmates who struggle, as well.

"I don't like to see other people getting picked on," remarked Gibbs.

In short, one could easily say that this particular student-athlete enjoys making others feel better about themselves.

After all, isn't that what everyone in life should strive to do?