"I was told people in Bozeman are nice, and it's true," said Gebicki, now 23. "More people seem to be smiling for just no reason here. In Poland, a guy might be walking down the street worrying about having enough money for the next month. Here, people are trying to figure out if they can go skiing tomorrow."
Gebicki himself has plenty of reason to smile these days. He's graduating this spring with a 3.99 GPA in industrial engineering after four remarkable years on the MSU men's tennis team: In 2004, he and Braden Olson were the first MSU men's doubles team to go to the NCAA nationals.
MSU won three consecutive Big Sky titles with Gebicki's help. He was a four-time all-conference selection and a four-time all-Big Sky Academic honoree.
The Bozeman chapter of Rotary International recently named Gebicki Student of the Month for his accomplishments.
"It has been a great privilege coaching Marek over these last four years," said MSU men's tennis coach Mike Phillips. "Although one of the best singles players to ever play for Montana State, I would venture to say Marek was probably the best doubles player ever to play at Montana State. Most importantly, Marek was a great team player, always leading the team with his work ethic, enthusiasm and passion for the sport."
Gebicki gets similar praise for his degree work.
"Marek is equally as capable in the classroom," said Paul Schillings, associate professor of mechanical and industrial engineering. "He's the kind of student an instructor loves to have. He works toward perfection. He's a credit to himself and to MSU."
After graduation, Gebicki is hoping to continue on at MSU in an engineering master's program.
"In four years, you just get the feeling for what's going on. Industrial engineering is very broad. There are many areas you can't learn about in four years," he said. "But being in graduate school, you get to take classes in your area of interest."
He'd also like to stick around to help tennis coach Mike Phillips. Gebicki is currently volunteering as an assistant coach and loving the work.
"The team and I are still benefiting tremendously since Marek has been so generous to contribute his time," Phillips said. "Coaching student athletes like 'Speedy' Gebicki is what keeps us coaches motivated and inspired."
Gebicki was recruited to play tennis during his senior year of high school in Poland. Playing on his country's clay courts since age 9, he won the Poland doubles, under-16 championship in 2000 and narrowly missed the singles championship by 7-6 in the third set. Polish player, Chris Tokar, who was six years older and had played at MSU told Phillips that Gebicki would be a good fit for the MSU team. Gebicki, Jakub Dybala, Lukasz Mazur and Tokar are all Poles who have played at MSU in the past ten years.
"We were a really international team," Gebicki said of his time at MSU. "At one time we had players from four different continents: North and South America, Europe and Asia."
MSU's College of Engineering and Bozeman's mountain setting also proved a good fit. The son of two engineering professors, Gebicki grew up enjoying science, math and physics. He is an avid skier and "loves" the mountains of Montana, a marked contrast to his hometown of Lodz, an industrial city in Poland's flatlands with a greater metropolitan population of around one million.
"I really liked my experience here in Bozeman," Gebicki said. "I came here for tennis and it really met my expectations. It was a great team and a great coach. I feel lucky to be here. I couldn't have asked for anything more."