Len Gipson is always in the swing of things.
It really doesn’t matter which sport he’s playing.
Gipson is a senior at Father Judge High School and last year he made a name for himself in the spring, becoming one of the top players in the Catholic League. He was strong on the mound and just as good at the plate.
And while Catholic League fans know him as a baseball player, it might not even be his best sport.
That might be golf, a sport he has been playing for just as long as baseball.
“I golfed with my father when I was very young and I was pretty good at it,” said Gipson, who lives in Bridesburg. “I was always pretty good at hitting the ball, but I had to work on my game a lot.
“I became a member of the First Tee of Greater Philadelphia golf program, which is a program that gives city kids lessons on golf as well as life lessons. It really helped me a lot. I liked it as soon as I started playing. I guess I like the challenge. It’s a sport where you always have to work on something.”
Gipson might still have work to do, but it’s evident he has put in plenty to get where he is.
His strong season in baseball last year, when he helped the Crusaders make the Catholic League semifinals before dropping a heartbreaker to La Salle in 13 innings, may have been surpassed by his strong season this year in golf.
In his second year as a captain of the Crusaders golf program, Gipson made First-Team All-Catholic for the second straight season. During the regular season, he finished sixth best in the league. And he did everything he could to make sure the program was headed in the right direction, both for this season and beyond.
”Len was a true leader on the golf course, he used his experience with the First Tee Program to help the younger players on the team,” said Judge coach Dave Smith. “This year we had a very small, young, inexperienced team so we did not win a lot of matches, but that didn’t stop Len from prevailing over some of the best players in the state.
“Len grew up in Bridesburg, where there isn’t a golf course or much grass, for that matter. I’d love it when we would play against La Salle and St Joe’s Prep and Len would dominate these kids that grew up on country clubs. All the coaches in the league have nothing but good things to say about Len after matches.”
And Gipson has nothing but great things to say about playing golf at Judge.
“We had a great year this year and the kids really tried hard,” Gipson said. “Golf is an individual sport, but it’s also a team sport. I like that. I like playing together and trying to get better. They worked hard and got a lot better.”
Gipson did a lot of double duty in the fall. His afternoons were spent playing golf, and many evenings and weekends were spent honing his baseball skills.
It kept him busy, but that’s what you have to do if you want to be the best at two sports.
“I played as much as I could, you always want to work hard,” Gipson said. “It wasn’t too bad. I made sure I did my homework, but when I would have time, I’d be practicing. Both are fun, so I don’t mind doing them.”
Gipson might be even better in the classroom than he is on either the course or the baseball field. He maintains a 4.1 grade point average at Judge and is ranked 12th in his senior class.
Those numbers should help him next year when he goes to college. What sport he will play is up for debate, but he knows what he wants to study.
“I want to major in civil engineering,” Gipson said. “Either that or finance or business of some kind. I like both of them, both are things I’m interested in.”
Now that his high school golf career is over, Gipson, who is a member of the National Honor Society and the Presidential Delegates, hopes to continue playing the sport he’s loved for so many years, but he’s also going to turn his full attention to baseball. He has big plans for the program.
“I really think we can go as far as we did last year, even though the Catholic League is really hard,” said Gipson, who pitched the first seven innings against La Salle last year in the 13-inning loss. “And once you get there, you can do anything. Last year proved that. La Salle was great and we could have beaten them. I think we can win the championship this year.
“I want to have a great senior year, graduate, get into a great college and have a great season in baseball. That would be the perfect ending.”