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Former Ute playing at the top of the beach volleyball circuit.

By Brooke Adams, communications specialist, University Marketing and Communications

By the time Jake Gibb graduated with a business degree from the University of Utah in 2002, he knew exactly where he was headed: the beach.

Gibb began playing volleyball when he was 17 and, he says, he wasn’t very good back then. But Gibb fell in love with the sport and kept playing — right on through his student days at the U, where he played indoor club volleyball.

“I knew I wanted to move to California and pursue a beach volleyball career when I graduated,” Gibb said in an email.

And, so he did.

Today, Gibb is a three-time Olympian (2008, 2012 and 2016). In July will represent the U.S. at the FIVB Beach Volleyball World Championships in Austria, playing with Taylor Crabb. It’s the biggest event in the sport outside of the Olympics.

“I keep telling myself and others that I’m not 41-years old and that I’m just a young buck out here, but no one seems to believe me,” said Gibb, a Bountiful, Utah, native.

Gibb’s climb to the pinnacle of his sport has come with challenges. He is a two-time cancer survivor, having fought melanoma in 2004 and testicular cancer in 2011 — just as Gibb was preparing for both the 2012 Summer Olympic Games in London and the birth of his first child with wife Jane.

Gibb was able to compete and finished fifth at the Olympics that year, a feat that earned him FIVB’s Most Inspirational Athlete in both 2013 and 2014.

More recently, Gibb and Crabb have two fifth-place finishes on the 2017 FIVB World Tour. He and Crabb are among eight U.S. pairs (men’s and women’s) who made the cut for the 2017 World Championships.

“What keeps me going is my love for the sport of beach volley,” Gibb said. “If I had a regular office job I would be out on the weekends playing with friends. I love playing and I love the life it provides for me and my family.”

Oh, and did we mention Gibb’s middle name? It’s his mother’s maiden name, one he shares with all his 10 brothers and sisters: Spiker.