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Central City's Gabby Moser is The Independent's girls athlete of the year. (Independent/Barrett Stinson)

The signs started showing up fairly early in the life of Gabby Moser that she would do pretty well in athletics.

Her mother Neely remembers when that thought first crossed her mind.

“We were living in Humphrey, and her PE teacher said they were playing dodgeball and Gabby was doing amazing things,” she said. “She was crazy good at dodgeball and was able to jump over the ball. That was probably in second or third grade.

“It’s one of those things where she has combined God-given talent with her work ethic.”

Moser doesn’t recall her dodgeball days that well, but she knows a story that her father Marty tells from her early elementary days that shows she had a knack for sports.

“I was always competitive,” she said. “My dad said we were playing basketball against my (older) sister’s fifth-grade team. He threw me a behind-the-back pass and I made the shot. He said he was amazed by that.”

Moser continued to amaze throughout her career at Central City. And she continued her knack of excelling in multiple sports that she displayed at a younger age.

Not only did she rewrite the school record book in most offensive categories in softball — as well as a good chunk of the Class C records — but Moser also became the Bison’s leading career scorer in basketball.

For her performance during her senior season, Moser has been selected as the Independent’s 2020 girls athlete of the year.

She is the fourth Central City athlete to earn this honor, joining Rochelle Wiese (1988), Christy Rice (1993) and Jacey Kuck (2002).

Neely had a unique double perspective view of Gabby’s career as both mom and coach of Central City’s softball team.

“I think she had a great senior year,” she said. “She gives her everything in anything that she does. She’s valedictorian of the senior class, and I think she’s a great example of getting everything out of your experience at Central City.

“She’s a kid who gives her all, and she’s received a lot of recognition. The thing that got her here is her work ethic and her desire to keep improving.”

Gabby excelled both on the softball diamond and on the basketball court once again.

The University of South Dakota softball recruit set the Class C marks for career home runs (48, shattering the old record of 33), career runs (226, with the old mark standing at 188), career RBIs (178) and career triples (tied the record of 24).

She also has school records for runs in a season (67) and a game (5), RBIs in a season (50) and game (7), stolen bases in a season (32) and career (104), and walks in a season (28).

As a senior, the shortstop hit .605 and had a .719 on-base percentage.

But those numbers aren’t what Gabby enjoyed the most about her time in a Bison uniform.

“Honestly, I don’t think my senior year could have gone any better,” she said. “I loved being with my teammates for another year.”

Gabby’s competitive drive helped ignite one of her favorite games of the season.

“In one of the district tournament games against Fillmore Central, we were down nine runs,” she said. “We ended up coming back to win. We talked in the dugout and said that we are going to do this. Then it felt amazing to actually come back like that.”

In her final season of basketball, Gabby averaged 18.7 points, 6.0 rebounds and 2.1 steals per game. She finished with 1,454 career points, breaking Kay Broekemeier’s school mark of 1,377.

“It’s impressive what she’s been able to do in all three sports,” Central City girls basketball coach Dan Negus said. “She’s right up there with Kay as the best athletes that we’ve had while I’ve been at Central City.”

Gabby’s drive to improve and her durability were big factors in her success.

“She’s always giving 100%,” Negus said. “It’s that way all the time every day. It was that way in practice as well. You didn’t just see that from her when she stepped onto the court for a game.”

There were times that some wished that Gabby could dial back that giving 100% just a little bit.

Neely said her daughter would sometimes be reminded by her parents that diving full speed into the bleachers to try to save a loose ball might not be worth the risk of an injury.

Breaking the school scoring record in a Feb. 4 Lou-Platte Conference tournament upset of Ravenna was one of the most memorable hoops moments for Gabby this year, but it wasn’t one that she was counting down toward.

“I knew that earlier in my junior year I reached 1,000 points,” she said. “Some people would tell me that they were tracking how close I was (to the school record). But I just wanted to play good for the team. I wasn’t worried about the record.”

Breaking into the starting lineup as a freshmen helped set up Gabby to be on the path to becoming the Central City scoring leader.

“When she was a freshman, we had a lot of good seniors, but she was ready to play,” Negus said. “She was good enough defensively and she provided us a spark offensively. She averaged around 10 points and did everything that we hoped for.”

Neely said her daughter always throws herself into whatever she is doing. And she has always been interested in doing many different things, especially in sports.

“In seventh and eighth grade, she would cry because she would have to decide on volleyball or softball in high school,” she said. “She’s always been a gamer. She is gifted athletically, and she will focus on a few things and do them well.”

In softball, that focus and drive was on hitting and playing shortstop.

“Her older sister (Maddie) pitched, so even though Gabby does pitch, she always wanted to be in a different situation than her sister,” Neely said. “She focused on playing shortstop and hitting to be different from her sibling, which is a pretty common thing.”

What wasn’t common was the type of numbers that Gabby was able to compile.

Even with her drive to keep improving, Gabby always made sure that she did her best to help the Bison improve in any way.

“She has a great talent that when others are doing a drill or hitting, she can pick out exactly what they need to do to fix things,” Neely said. “She always wants to help others. I can see her becoming a coach. She wants to go into the medical field and possibly become a doctor, but I could see her being a youth coach some day.”

Although happy with how her senior year went, there was still disappointments for Gabby — just like for many, many members of the class of 2020.

The COVID-19 pandemic forced the cancellation of the spring sports season across the state, and that eliminated an opportunity for redemption that Gabby had been looking forward to for a full year.

“This was my last year of track, so it was definitely very weird not to be able to have that,” she said. “I’d placed (sixth) in (the 300-meter) hurdles at the (Class B) state meet as a sophomore. Then I broke my foot in the spring of my junior year and my season was over.

“In my high school career, I only had two track seasons. This was supposed to be the year that I came back. But God has a plan, and this allows me to get ready for playing softball at South Dakota. It makes you better and improves your mental toughness when you have to face obstacles.”

And Gabby is certainly an example of someone who makes the most out of a tough situation.

“(The pandemic) has been very hard for her,” Neely said. “Everyone has to be home and everyone has to give up things that are important to them. “But she has a fitness Instagram page, and she keeps looking for ways to improve her fitness and nutrition.

“She’s having our family work out together, and we’re spending more time together as a family than we have since the kids were young. She’s figuring out softball drills that she can do and trying to keep working hard.”

Gabby said that concentrating on only one sport starting this fall at South Dakota will be different, but she is looking forward to being able to focus solely on softball.

But she has loved what being a multi-sport athlete has done for her throughout her Central City career.

“Sports have played a huge part of my entire life,” Gabby said. “Without sports, my entire life would have been different. I love sports, but (the pandemic) has taught me that sports aren’t everything. Life is more than athletics.

“But it’s going to be a nice feeling when I can start playing at South Dakota.”

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