Issuu on Google+

ROCK REPORT

SOPHOMORE GAMBLE FINDING HIS GAME By Jordan Maxwell

Jesse Gamble used to play soccer and hockey before he decided to focus on lacrosse. Thank goodness he did because the Rock might not have a 6–2 record without his efforts this season.

G

amble has been one of the many bright spots for the Rock this year with his speedy transition game and tough defensive effort night in and night out. This year has been a boon for the 25-year-old Rockwood, Ontario native, who is starting to find his game and confidence on a roster loaded with talented veteran players. “It’s different than my first year. Last year, I was focused on mostly making the team and trying to play a role to not get burned,� said Gamble. “This year, I’m trying to be more of an impact player and focus on making a statement in the games while helping the team to contribute. I’m more comfortable because everything isn’t new to me. I’ve been through everything so it’s not as surprising as the first year.� In his first complete season with the team, including the playoffs, Gamble registered 10 points (four goals, six assists) with 67 loose balls in 13 total games for Toronto. The Rock were ousted by the Rochester Knighthawks last season and fell short of winning their second straight Champion’s Cup. Gamble made it his focus this season to be a staple on the team, no longer the player just

Ä Ä‰ĆŤÄ‘ĆŤĆŤ ĆŤÄ‚Ä€Ä Äƒ


ROCK REPORT

trying to fit in with the guys. His road to that level hasn’t been without help, he said. “I can’t single out one player. They all take time out of their day, practice or a game to talk and share their knowledge with me,� Gamble said. “Guys like Colin Doyle, Cam Woods and Patrick Merrill, Sandy Chapman, Phil Sanderson have all helped me out. They all have so much knowledge to pass on and they don’t even think twice about trying to make you a better player.� It wasn’t until a childhood friend, Andrew, suggested Gamble try his hand at lacrosse that he began his quest to become one of the league’s best transition and defensive players. He played in the backyard with his buddies and acclimated to the game over time. Eventually he went on to play for Guelph, a minor team, but soon found that his talent was superior to those around him at the time and needed more of a challenge after playing Junior B

lacrosse for a year as well. Rock coach John Lovell was friends with Gamble’s mother, he said, and suggested that he take his talents to the Orangeville Northmen, playing with some of the best players in the world and best coaches as well. “He’d heard about me and told me that I should go play in Orangeville. It was one of the best decisions of my life,â€? said Gamble. “Matt Sawyer let me come to a tryout and I battled to make the team. Other guys helped me there and coached me throughout those years. I learned a ton and I was pushed by some of the best guys in lacrosse like Adam Jones and Glen Bryan. “I led the team in points when some of the guys were playing elsewhere so it helped me to grow a bit and it helped us to change the way the game was being played at that time. A lot of teams tried to emulate what we did. We had tons of guys that could push the ball and it was when I ĆŤĆŤ ĆŤÄ‚Ä€Ä ÄƒĆŤÄ‘ĆŤÄ ÄŠ


ROCK REPORT

was first introduced to the transition game.� Gamble was drafted by the Rock in 2011 with the 17th overall pick in the draft and since then, his steady rise has been acknowledged by his teammates and his coaches as well. Terry Sanderson, GM with the Toronto Rock, said that he’s been impressed with Gamble’s development as a player and added that he’s been one of the bright spots for the Rock this season. “He’s been good for the most part,� he said. “He’s had a couple of big goals but he’d also like to have a few plays back as well. He’s been real good for sure and he knows it’s a work in progress and that he has a ways to go. We’re pretty pleased with what we’ve been seeing from him — absolutely.� And Gamble has been learning those lessons every day, especially from his teammates in practice. “Every single veteran in some way has helped to improve my game and I’m sure every guy on the team can say the same thing. It’s a lot

ĂĀƍđƍĆŤ ĆŤÄ‚Ä€Ä Äƒ

of little advice that adds up to the big picture,� said Gamble. “It’s unbelievable. There are championships between all of these guys and there are always veterans on every team, but it’s another thing for them to be so helpful like these guys are with me. One of the lessons that sticks out is when we were doing one-on-one in practice. I was D’ing up Colin Doyle in the corner and he pulled me aside to give me some advice on how I was playing defence. “I wasn’t going to knock him over so there was no need to initiate contact in that situation. It’s the way that Sandy defends players, and he’s more of my size, so it really hit home for me. Colin was the one who opened my eyes to how I should be doing it,� he added. It’s certainly translated to the box scores for Gamble as he’s registered a total of six points and 46 loose balls in just eight games for the Rock this season. While his turnovers are up, nine this year compared to just five last year, it’s a sign that Gamble is still growing in his second year with the Toronto Rock. Still his goal is not only to get better as a player, but to do whatever he has to do to bring home the cup this season. “My goal is the championship. If I can do anything to help the team, it’s that. There are no individual accolades or lofty goals that I want to accomplish. I just want to win a championship,� said Gamble. “(To do that), I need to be more consistent on defence. I need to continue to learn the system better, not get beat and be a liability. After that, everything is good.�


Gamble paying off for the Rock