Where are they now? Nadia Bibbs, Hillcrest
BY TONY BARANEK firstname.lastname@example.org July 28, 2013 9:48PM
Nadia Bibbs was a four-year varsity member for Hillcrest from 1999-2003. Bibbs graduated from Northwestern in March of 2008. | FILE PHOTOS
Updated: July 28, 2013 10:32PM
Nadia Bibbs has always been one to keep her feet on the ground, even if she once dreamed of soaring into the air as a pilot.
As a star basketball player at Hillcrest in the early 2000s, she was sought after by big colleges. And to that end, she went on to have a successful career at Northwestern.
But she knew success in life would require more than shooting baskets.
“As a senior in high school is where I started focusing, thinking, ‘You know what? Use basketball to get to a good college, get a good college degree,’ ” Bibbs said. “I never had plans to be a player in the WNBA or overseas. It was really just my means of transportation to getting a good degree.”
Today, Bibbs is enjoying the best of both worlds.
The 28-year-old Country Club Hills native currently lives downtown, where she works at the Willis Tower as a software engineer for Toji Trading, creating applications for the firm’s traders.
On Aug. 16, she is to leave for Mexico to train with the Mexico National women’s basketball team in preparation for the COCABA Championship tournament Aug. 23-25 in San Salvador, and then the FIBA American Championship Sept. 21-28 in Veracruz, the latter of which is a qualifier for the 2014 World Cup.
Bibbs has been a competitor for the Mexico National team since 2006. In 2011, the team won the silver medal at the Pan American games in Guadalajara, just missing out on a chance to compete in the 2012 Olympics.
She has indeed soared.
“I wouldn’t change anything about what I’ve done so far,” said Bibbs, who is 28 years old. “The person you are is built on where you’ve been and what you’ve experienced. And I can honestly say that I’m proud of the person I’ve become.”
Bibbs was a four-year varsity member and played in every game from 1999-2003 for Hillcrest, which was 101-15 during that span. For her career she amassed a school-record 660 assists to go along with 1,635 points, 552 rebounds and 486 steals. She was also an all-conference competitor in track and volleyball, and academically was ranked No. 2 in a senior class of 251.
She began her pursuit of an aerospace engineering career at Boston College, where during her freshman season she was the team’s leading rookie scorer and rebounder.
Then, a pair of occurrences resulted in a change of course.
“During my freshman year my coaches saw me squinting when I was playing and they made me get contacts,” Bibbs said. “Somebody then told me that you have to be a 20-20 vision as a pilot. I could have gotten lasik (surgery), but I missed that little disclaimer.
“On top of that my coach (Margaret McKeon) got fired. I loved her as a coach. I was just like, ‘I can do all of this at home, at Northwestern.’ It seemed like a better fit.”
After sitting out one season (NCAA transfer regulations), Bibbs played for three years at Northwestern, culminating in a senior season in which she averaged 6.0 rebounds and 8.4 points.
In the summer of 2006, Bibbs was extended an invitation by the Mexico National team to play in the Centrobasket 2006 tournament in Mexico City.
It was the beginning of an off and on professional basketball career that has seen her compete against talent from across the world.
“Definitely, a highlight was two summers ago at the Pan American Games, when we won the silver medal,” Bibbs said.
“People were out there wearing jerseys with your name on the back of them. Going into a mall required police escorts. People were coming up to you, knowing your name. Just winning that silver medal was the best experience ever.”
Bibbs graduated from Northwestern in March 2008 and began her career as a computer engineer. Basketball, however, remains a passion.
During the times when she doesn’t play for Mexico, Bibbs competes on an adult travel team that includes former Marian Catholic star and current Plainfield East coach Missy Mitidiero.
“I work out pretty much every day,” Bibbs said. “I have a basketball trainer, a weight-lifting trainer, I talk to nutritionists … I definitely kick it up a notch when we get into the summer and get ready for these tournaments.”
She looked more than ready during a recent game in which she and her travel team doubled up the score on a college squad in a summer league at Elmhurst College.
“It’s kind of funny,” Bibbs said, breaking into a grin. “I actually had a girl come up to me after that game and ask, ‘What school do you go to?’ I was like, ‘No, I’m out of school.’ She was like, ‘What school did you go to? You look kind of familiar.’
“When I said, ‘Northwestern and that I graduated in 2008, she just said, ‘Wow. You’re an incredible player.’ That was pretty cool.”