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April 18, 2024

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Spring Housing Guide

Gamby impresses

Not many players can say they have a really close relationship with their coach, but there are a few. Head volleyball coach Denise Van De Walle and junior middle Kristin Gamby have this special relationship.

“Coach and I get along great,” Gamby said. “I’m not afraid to talk to her. We have a really good relationship. I think players need that type of relationship with their coach.”

Van De Walle has coached a lot of players in her 19 years at Bowling Green and every relationship is different.

“We have a great relationship,” Van De Walle said. “I enjoy coaching her. I enjoy her personality and I enjoy the relationship that we have.”

Gamby and Van De Walle have been close and had an open relationship since she first set foot at Bowling Green in 1998. “She came in as a freshman very raw, very athletic, strong, (and) good sized, but her volleyball background was very, very limited,” Van De Walle said. “I knew that she was someone that was going to take a lot of work, but my investment in her was I thought the return was going to be great.”

As a result Van De Walle decided to redshirt Gamby her freshman year.

“That was the best decision I could have made,” Van De Walle said. “She was nowhere near ready to compete her first year.”

Gamby agreed with Van De Walle. She felt that she wasn’t at the same level as the rest of the players.

“I didn’t have very much experience coming into BG,” Gamby said. “Coach made the atmosphere so positive and family oriented. She had a lot to do with why I came here.”

Gamby knew she wanted to come to a Division I school and when she visited Bowling Green she fell in love with the campus. “Everything just seemed to click,” Gamby said. “I redshirted my freshman year. Athletically I’ve excelled (since then).”

Her redshirt freshman year she saw very little action, playing in only six matches.

“I still thought she was someone who wasn’t going to make an impact yet, so she didn’t play a lot,” Van De Walle said. “Last year was a totally different story. She started off the preseason and early part of the season what I would consider just OK.”

Then came the weekend of Oct. 14, when the Falcons faced Buffalo and Northern Illinois. Van De Walle decided to make a change.

“I decided I was going to put JoAnna (Papageorgiou) on the right side,” Van De Walle said. “Well in order for me to make that kind of change I needed someone else to go into the middle and that person had to be Gamby.”

And Gamby proved to be the right person for the position. She had 15 kills, four errors in 24 attempts and hit a .458 against Buffalo. “The next night against Northern Illinois was the truer test,” Van De Walle said. “I kept Gamby in the middle.”

She did not disappoint again posting 26 kills and four errors in 42 attempts, hitting .524, along with blocking four balls.

Gamby earned both the Mid-American Conference’s Offensive Player of the Week and the league’s Scholar Athlete of the Week award for her effort in those two matches.

“Ever since the weekend of me taking a chance she’s been in the starting line-up,” Van De Walle said.

Gamby said, “I’m happy with the way things have turned out. I feel like right now I have a really important role on the team.”

That weekend proved to be the beginning of her volleyball career at Bowling Green and she has continued to be strong this year.

“Right now she’s been steady,” Van De Walle said. “I think she’s still improving. She makes some, what I’d call non-technical, athletic moves on the floor, which is because her volleyball background was so limited prior to coming to Bowling Green.”

Gamby didn’t play club volleyball before coming to BG like most of the other players. She started playing in eighth grade and continued to play in high school.

While in high school at Marion Elgin High School in My. Victory, Ohio Gamby earned three letters, helping her team to Mid Ohio Athletic Conference titles in each of her last two years.

While on her high school volleyball team they qualified for at least the state semifinals all three years, finishing as runner-up in 1995 and 1997.

During her senior year at Marion Elgin she earned First-Team All-Ohio honors and was the Central District Division III Player of the Year.

Gamby is a junior majoring in accounting. She is the daughter of Steve and Pat Gamby. She has an older brother, Mike, and a younger sister, Rebecca who looks up to her.

“I inspired my sister to take an interest in volleyball,” Gamby said. “She is at every game with my parents. She is always the first one to hug me after every game whether we win or lose.”

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