Laguna’s Gamble recognized for his ‘giving heart’

As a defender on the soccer field, it’s Kai Gamble’s responsibility to not give up shots on goal.

Off the field, Gamble relishes in the act of giving — he gives his heart, mind and energy to try to make things better for others.

Laguna Blanca's Kai Gamble

For all he does for his school and the community, the Laguna Blanca junior on Monday was honored at the Santa Barbara Athletic Round Table press luncheon as the recipient of the Phil Womble Ethics in Sports Award.

Gamble’s dedication to helping U.S. soldiers in Afghanistan is a great example of his selflessness. He founded the Santa Barbara Service for Soldiers Organization, which connects soliders in Afghanistan through letters and care packages.

He is currently is working on a benefit concert to support the Wounded Warrior Project of Operation Homefront, a nonprofit organization that provides emergency assistance for military troops, the families they leave behind, and wounded warriors when they return home.

“What sets him apart,” Laguna Blanca Athletic Director Mike Biermann said, “for someone his age, he has an amazing, incredible heart, a giving heart. He lives by the motto: What can I do to make others’ lives better. He gets that from his parents, Ed and Naoko.”

Biermann said the Womble Award’s standards of being selfless, trustworthy and respectful “fit Kai to a T.”

The captain on the soccer and lacrosse teams, Gamble’s extracurricular activities don’t stop there. He serves as the ASB treasurer, is a member of the Laguna Blanca mock trial and debate teams and the engineering club. He’s been selected to the National Forensics League and was awarded the Jamie Harder Scholarship for Male Youth Leadership.

He also plays the violin and won a performing arts award in 2010.

Gamble takes Advanced Placement classes and carries a 3.85 grade point average.

Biermann feels fortunate to have an athlete of Gamble’s character and heart on campus.

“I’m glad you have one year left,” he said.

Gamble said his willingness to give to others comes from his parents.

“I like to thank my parents for instilling commitment, selfless service, determination and respect for others in me.” he said. “I hope to instill those qualities in younger athletes.”

UCSB baseball coach Bob Brontsema acknowledged the special signficance of the Womble Award.

“Kai, you’ve got a great award there,” Brontsema started. “Your resumé is pretty impressive, but I got to tell you an award with Phil Womble’s name on it, an ethics award, should be right at the top of your trophy case. That’s quite an accomplishment.”

Luncheon highlights:

–UCSB volleyball assistant coach Lee Nelson said the “last couple of weeks have been a little bit nutty.”

The Gauchos clinched a playoff berth two weeks ago, lost a home match against Pacific, a non-playoff team, and then beat third-ranked Stanford the following night.

“Of those (last) two matches, that was the more important match because there is a chance we’ll see them in playoffs,” Nelson said of Stanford. “Our guys played as well as I’ve see them play. I had a number of people tell me ‘That’s the best I’ve seen you guys play. That team can win a national championship.’ ”

The Gauchos close the regular season on the road at Pepperdine and USC, and the results of those matches will determine their MPSF playoff fate.

“How we do in any one of those matches will determine if we travel for the first round of playoffs to either Stanford, Irvine or BYU,” Nelson said. “BYU is 10-0 at home, so we’d just as soon not go there. Irvine is a little easier trip.

“Things look good, but it’s pretty challening from here on out,” he added. “But, if we play as well as we did against Stanford, then I really like our chances of doing well.”

–Jason Oatis, the interim track and field coach at Westmont, said the team has established 89 record-book performances and 213 PRs this season.

“We’re doing OK. My job right now is make sure they don’t get hurt,” said Oatis.

–Dos Pueblos softball coach Lee Harris announced that his daughter, pitcher Hannah Harris, accepted a scholarship to Fresno State.

–When a coach calls one his players “The Man,” that is the ultimate compliment.

Brontsema said fifth-year senior Mark Haddow has been “The Man” on his ballclub.

“He’s been the man on the field — he leads us in a lot of different categories, leads the Big West in a lot of different categories. He’s been the man in the locker room, he’s the man off the field. He’s been mature, he’s handled the things that any coach would want. He has the idea of what we want to do, what I want to do, and how I like things.

“That guy has been the guy in the locker room saying the things that I want someone to say to his teammates,” Brontsema continued. “When you have your leader being one of your best players saying the things the coach is saying, it’s an incredible plus for a coaching staff. We’re glad he’s back for an extra year.”

–Carpinteria’s baseball team has a busy week. The Warriors play rival Bishop Diego on Wednesday and Friday, and on Saturday they will be working as the hurdles crew during the 92nd Russell Cup track and field meet, said athletic director and baseball coach Pat Cooney.

Thirty-eight schools and many of the top athletes in CIF Division 4 will be competing at Memorial Stadium in one of the oldest track and field meets in California. Action begins at 9:30 a.m.



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