Leigh Gibbs was born in Gisborne, educated at Lytton High School, and gained a Diploma in Physical Education at Otago in 1976 and a Graduate Diploma in Teaching from the Christchurch College of Education. She taught physical education in Christchurch before returning to live in Gisborne.
An outstanding netballer, Leigh represented Otago from 1974-76 and Canterbury from 1977 to 1986. She had a long and distinguished career in the New Zealand netball team from 1978 to 1987, and had the honour of captaining the team in 1986 and 1987. In 1979, the New Zealand team ﬁnished 1st equal in the World Championship, while the 1987 team which she captained convincingly won the world title in Scotland.
Leigh Gibbs has also had an extensive and highly successful record as a netball coach, including the Canterbury Flames, a World Championship Under 21 team in 1992, and the national team, the Silver Ferns, from 1993-1997. Awarded the ONZM for services to netball in 2001, her coaching partnership with Ruth Aitken has been highly successful, the Silver Ferns winning the World Championship in Jamaica in 2003, and the gold medal at the Melbourne Commonwealth Games in 2006.