LEWISBURG, W.Va. (WVDN) – When Greenbrier East basketball fans hear the name John Gabbert, they most likely are going to say something like, “We don’t have a player by that name.”
Those fans would be incorrect, but not entirely — they just know him as Goose.
John “Goose” Gabbert came to Lewisburg with his family a few years ago, donning a Spartan uniform instead of the George Washington one he would have worn had they stayed where they were.
Everyone in the Greenbrier Valley is glad the family made that choice, as Gabbert has been a star the last couple of years on the court.
As for his nickname, Gabbert explained that was just kind of something that stuck around.
“My dad always called me ‘silly goose’ when I was a little kid, and I guess I loved it and always said it as well. Then one day dad just called me ‘Goose,’ and ever since then it’s stuck,” Gabbert said.
When he arrived at East, Gabbert just wanted to be a good teammate and enjoy his career, but his brother ignited a will in him to be great.
“When we got here, I didn’t necessarily think about becoming a household name,” Gabbert stated. “I just wanted to be a good teammate and fit in. Although, after seeing William have the year he had in 2021, it definitely made me realize I can do the same thing if I put in the work,” he added.
Speaking of his brother William, a current player for Wheeling University, Gabbert lacks no confidence in who is a better player, especially if they played one-on-one.
“I would beat William in one-on-one. We don’t play a lot, but I feel like I’m better than him. He’s bigger and stronger than me, although he can’t guard me still. I would put my money on me every time,” Gabbert said confidently.
Although Gabbert is confident his brother would be beaten, he still has a ton of respect for him and for his father, who has helped Gabbert for many years.
“My dad and brother have been huge for my growth as a player. William is a big inspiration to me. We’re best friends and seeing him have a big season after all the work he’s put in was awesome to watch. It was fun to see him get the recognition he deserves,” Gabbert said of his brother.
“William has always had a cooler head and stayed even which I’ve really tried to get better at this year. Staying even keel when things aren’t going well is something that I’ve done good at this year and is part of the reason I’ve played well. Me and my dad are really close as well. When I was younger, we used to clash heads a lot on the court because we’re alike, especially on the court. But over the years we’ve gotten better at that. Dad has always been my biggest supporter and always believed in me even when sometimes I didn’t believe in myself. He wakes up every morning with me and rebounds for me at 6 am. He is the best dad anybody can ask for,” Gabbert said.
With the Spartans’ hopes of a state tournament appearance still a possibility, Gabbert says the schedule they have played this season has prepared them for any team and any style of play imaginable.
“Our schedule was really hard, and we’ve had a lot of big wins and some disappointing losses as well. I think we’ve shown that we can beat anybody in the state. Just like last year, the schedule is going to pay off, and all the experience in the close games is only going to help. We’ve seen every style of play and played a lot of big games at home and on the road. We are ready for anything and are on a mission to get to the civic center,” Gabbert said.
Whether the season ends with a championship or not, either way, Gabbert will miss Greenbrier East and everything that comes with it.
“I’ll miss the community support the most. Dad always told us how the crowds here are really good, and the support is unmatched. Last year I saw that when we played at home, especially in the post season. Even some of my friends from GW said it was the loudest gym they’ve ever played in, when we played them in the regional last year. Also, seeing people in the community and they ask how you’re doing, how the team is, and stuff like that. It’s special and I’ll miss that a lot. Playing for East means a lot for me, and I have a lot of pride in wearing green and gold,” Gabbert said.
As for what comes next, there are options, but Gabbert will narrow those down once he sits down with family after the season.
“I don’t have any plans set in stone, but I do want to play college basketball. I have a few schools talking to me but I’m going to focus on that after our season,” he said.