Since Katy High senior middle/outside hitter Jordan Gamble started playing volleyball for a local league in fourth grade, and then competitively in club in sixth grade, the sport always awarded a sense of purpose. Gamble felt accomplished every time she stepped onto the court.
Admittedly "horrible" at the game at first, Gamble loved being part of a team.
"I had some friends playing and it looked like they were having fun, so I wanted to try it," Gamble said. "I was so uncoordinated. It was a lot of hard work, but I really enjoyed working hard. I understood the game and, if my body would just cooperate, I felt I could actually be good at it."
As she put in the time and work, the game gave back. And July 4 provided the high of Gamble's young career as she committed to play for NCAA DI Northwestern State in Natchitoches, Louisiana.
Gamble appreciated the school being close to home and its smaller class sizes. The academics and competitive volleyball program were plusses.
"I knew it was a perfect fit for me when I stepped onto the campus, and it just felt right," she said. "People would tell me that I would know when I found the right place, and I now know what they were talking about. It was overwhelming in a wonderful way, for sure. I was blessed to have offers from all over and was seriously considering a handful of them, but a few things made me change my mind about being so far from home."
I’m extremely excited and blessed to announce my verbal commitment to play D1 volleyball and further my academic career at Northwestern State University 💜 I am so grateful to my family, friends, coaches, and teammates who have supported me on this amazing journey! #ForkEm 🤘🏻😈🏐 pic.twitter.com/DQPdrK6Y5l— Jordan Gamble (@jordangambletx) July 5, 2021
The COVID-19 pandemic, for one, altered Gamble's perspective. She realized she did not want to be far from family in case she was needed or she needed them. She did not want to leave Texas, but also did not have many offers in-state. Northwestern State, however, is only 4 1/2 hours away, and the coaches made it an easy decision once she talked to them and visited the school.
"Once I was on campus, my heart knew it belonged there," Gamble said. "The town, the people, the campus, the support staff, and the coaches were all amazing. It has the same feeling I have here in Katy. It is a school surrounded by a town with wonderful people and full of school pride and traditions."
Gamble said it was between her eighth and ninth grade years that she realized college volleyball was a possibility. Colleges started reaching out to her then and several of her club teammates started verbally committing.
In two varsity seasons with the Tigers, the 6-foot-3 Gamble, gifted with height, length and athleticism, has 474 kills and 181 blocks in 223 sets played. She has a hitting percentage of .324.
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Gamble recently talked more with VYPE about her journey.
Q: What's the biggest improvement in your game since your freshman year?
A: "I significantly improved my communication with my teammates. I still have work to do, but it has come a long way."
Q: What about playing volleyball comes naturally to you?
A: "I guess I would say reading the opposition and the game, in general, just comes naturally to me. But I still need to work on my reaction time to what I know is about to happen, and/or communicate that to my teammates so they are ready."
Q: Last year was special for you and Katy, going to the regional finals for the first time since 1993. What did you learn about yourself and your team, and what do you hope to build upon for this year?
A: "I think we all learned that we're all talented players and we each have something to contribute to the team. We just needed to sync and that is exactly what we did. The returners know this, and everyone is working really hard this summer to be the best they can be. We have so many talented players returning that I feel if we can just sync again like we did last season, we can have a repeat of last season or possibly go further."
Q: What is something people don't know about you?
A: "I am not a competitive person off the court. On the court, it is all business, I want to win! But off the court, I will happily let you be No. 1."
Q: What motivates and inspires you? What makes you tick?
A: "My passion for volleyball, having a purpose, being part of and showing up with and for my team is what motivates me."