Mike Mastovich: 'Proud to be a Trojan': Gibson earns Subich scholarship, plus $10G pledge
May 3—Greater Johnstown three-sport athlete Alijah Gibson certainly appreciated the $3,000 Subich Trojan Spirit Scholarship he received during a ceremony at the high school auditorium on Tuesday.
But another surprise awaited Gibson, a senior who will attend Pitt-Johnstown in the respiratory care program.
Trojans alumnus Nick Subich, the scholarship benefactor, told a small crowd gathered in the lobby that he enjoys "throwing a wrench" into plans.
Subich said he didn't want the scholarship presentation to follow the path of so many similar events held across the country.
"I don't want it to be a photo op and then you never hear from someone ever again, and that person is not involved in your life," Subich said. "Alijah, I'm committing to you, when you graduate from college, if you have student loans, if you don't have student loans, I'll give you $10,000 toward your student loans or to jump-start whatever your next career is.
"That's my commitment to you. I want to stay involved in your life and be there for you every step of the way. Now it's time to do your part. Go out there, kick butt, finish and graduate from college."
Gibson certainly is a worthy recipient. He competed in football, wrestling and track and field at Greater Johnstown.
The civic-minded Gibson also is willing to do his part to make his community a better place.
He is in the Interact Club, whose members volunteer for service projects, and the Youth Peace Leadership program, a peace-building movement in both the school and outlying neighborhoods.
"This past weekend we did a highway cleanup with the Interact Club to make our community better, to make it look better and just change the way that people think about our community," Gibson said.
"The Youth Peace Leadership is a new program that we're doing here at our school," Gibson added. "We go around promoting peace in our community and our neighborhoods. We're coming up with peace plans and you'll see that soon throughout the school.
"There are new ideas. We're trying to bring homes to the homeless and different kinds of things."
Both the scholarship presenter and the recipient really impressed those in attendance on Tuesday.
This is the fourth year Nick Subich has sponsored the scholarship, which now has awarded a combined $9,000 to six Trojans football players since 2020.
Originally, the scholarship was $1,000, then was bumped up to $2,000 before reaching the $3,000 level the past two years. And, then there is the $10,000 commitment.
Subich, 28, is a 2013 graduate of Greater Johnstown who stood out on coach Tony Penna Jr.'s Trojans football teams. He went to Lock Haven University and now co-owns a wealth management firm in Pittsburgh.
"I wanted to do this because it's tough, especially because he's going into the medical field, and that's tough," Subich said, referring to the extra $10,000 he pledged to Gibson. "I wanted to try to do what I can to encourage him to get the job done and finish.
"I know what that burden looks like, having student loans, so I want to reward him for finishing — and do my best to help eliminate that hardship when he graduates."
Gibson was joined by family, friends, teachers, administrators, district board members and Superintendent Dr. Amy Arcurio, as well as football coach Antwuan Reed, wrestling coach Will Harris and track coach Chuck Wyatt.
"It's a great honor to receive this scholarship," Gibson said. "I'm very proud to be a Trojan, and there's not a place I'd rather be than here at Johnstown High School."
Those same sentiments expressed in Gibson's scholarship essay made an impression on Subich, whose family has participated in Greater Johnstown athletics for decades. The scholarship honors the memory of his grandfather, Nicholas Subich.
"What kick-started this was when my grandfather wasn't doing well health-wise, I wanted to really let him know his name will never be forgotten," Subich said.
"I just wanted to create a legacy so that the family will always keep giving back and supporting the Trojans — just like so many people supported us when we were in school."
Family played an important role on Tuesday, as Subich was joined by his wife, Regina, 2-year-old son Anthony, and his father, Brian, another former Trojans football standout.
"It means the world to me," Nick Subich said. "Every year, I can think of my grandfather and keep that going. I'm hoping my son will take that over for me in 20 years."
Gibson also found inspiration in Subich's generosity.
"It's very special," Gibson said. "I very much appreciate for him to be able to give back to the youth, to a generation. It's something I look forward to doing as I get older, to do the same thing he did and give back to the community."
That's a foundation and a legacy worth building upon.
Mike Mastovich is a sports reporter and columnist for The Tribune-Democrat. He can be reached at 814-532-5083. Follow him on Twitter @Masty81.