Player Spotlight

Player Spotlight highlights the finer details and elements while supplying insight to the fans on what a player's thought process may be pertaining to a certain play, game or situation. It brings the intensity, passion, and inner most thoughts of the individual player that otherwise may not be felt or heard.

Jesse Gamble of the Toronto Rock is in the PLPA Player Spotlight. By Stephen Stamp

Jesse GambleThe speed has always been there. It's a common sight to see Jesse Gamble sprinting up a lacrosse floor, the ball whipping back and forth in the head of his stick in his patented one-hand vertical cradle. For many players, it's a view they often have from behind Gamble as they try in vain to catch up with him.

As a transition player, though, it's important to focus on defence first and that's where Gamble had some work to do coming into the National Lacrosse League. Strangely, he was named Major Series Lacrosse's defensive player of the year in 2011, his NLL draft year. It was strange because he actually spent most of the season playing forward for the Kitchener-Waterloo Kodiaks.

That was just an example of him doing what was best for the team, though they were short some offensive lefties and needed him to play up front. He did it well, posting 27 goals and 19 assists to finish in the top 20 in the league in scoring. Gamble happily settled into a role out the back door, though, both in MSL and in the NLL. And he worked hard to improve his craft.

While he may not have been a defensive liability when he first came into the pro league, Gamble wasn't known primarily for his acumen in his own end. Not a problem: Gamble just dedicated himself to improving in his own end and applied his belief in discipline and commitment to the project. The result has been an evolution into a solid, consistent defender.

Gamble isn't blessed with great size, standing just 5'9", but his listed 180 pounds is pretty much all muscle and he uses his strength to his advantage against offensive players. And he can still get up the floor when opportunities arise.

Really, though, the most important thing is contributing to championship teams. While Gamble has won a pair of Mann Cups with the Six Nations Chiefs, his Toronto Rock won the Champions Cup the year before he arrived but haven't managed the feat since. He's determined to help change that and he's prepared to put in the work necessary to make it happen.

Question Where did you grow up and when did you start playing lacrosse?

I grew up in Eramosa Township and starting playing lacrosse when I was 10 for the Guelph Regals. Played all of my minor in Guelph and 1 year of Jr. B there, 4 years for Orangeville Jr.A.

Question What was it about the game that enticed you to commit to it ahead of other sports when you had to make a decision to focus on one above others?

I enjoy lacrosse the most but it was hard to give-up football and especially hockey. I still get the urge to play those sports anytime I watch a game.

Question You started your Major Series Lacrosse career playing primarily offence. What was the process that led to you switching to a transition role partway through 2011?

I was only playing offence for Kitchener at the beginning of the season because we were short offensive lefties. The plan was always to play me more in a transitional role.

Question When Toronto drafted you 17th overall in the 2011 draft, it wasn't clear to everyone at which end of the floor you would play, but they immediately slotted you in transition and you've thrived there. Ever wonder what it would be like playing offence at the NLL level or are you just happy in your role?

I believe myself and Toronto always knew I would play out the back door. I was able to put up some numbers in Junior but by no means do I consider myself an offensive player. At this level the O players are extremely talented and I'm more than happy to play the transition role.

Question You became known in Toronto for your speed and always being ready to take off up the floor. It looks like you're running a little less the last couple of years and focusing more on the game in your own end. Is that by design or just how things have worked out?
Answer It has and hasn't been by design. I had been getting a lot of transition opportunities by leaking up the floor and taking risks when I shouldn't have. My at home D game did need work when I entered the league and that has been a focus since then. The goal has always been to put one and one together and be able to create transition after playing solid D.

Question You've enjoyed a couple of Mann Cup championships with the Six Nations Chiefs but, while coming oh so close, haven't quite reached the top of the hill with the Rock. What do you think Toronto needs to do to bring the Champions Cup back to the ACC?

Hard Work

Question How do you set up your stick? Has your setup changed over the years since taking on more of a defensive role?
Answer I have a mid to high pocket that is fairly deep and hasn’t changed since Junior.

Question Obviously, going to an Ivy League school provides a great education. How did your time at Cornell affect your preparation for life after school both in and out of lacrosse?
Answer Cornell affected me in many more ways than I'll be able to describe here but the overarching lesson would boil down to commitment and discipline. School work and lacrosse were both big commitments that required a lot of energy, time and attention. As a result you had to prioritize your responsibilities. The fact that I was never a starter with limited playing time provided the hardest lesson of committing to a team, accepting your role and always trying to find ways to contribute.

Question What are you doing for work outside the game?

I work as an analyst at the hedge fund Donville Kent Asset Management. Jason Donville and the rest of our firm have given me the support and resources to be able to succeed in both endeavours.

PLPA Correspondent

Stephen Stamp is the co-editor of IL Indoor and was the Tom Borrelli Award winner as the National Lacrosse League's Media Person of the Year in 2013. He also does play by play and/or colour commentary for the Toronto Rock, Major Series Lacrosse, the Canadian Lacrosse League and in 2015 called 27 games at the World Indoor Lacrosse Championship. He hosts Boxla Beat, the leading lacrosse podcast, on NLL Radio.

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