CARTHAGE — Christopher Gamble is remembered by his former coaches as someone who loved the game of lacrosse as well as life itself.
Gamble, 26, a standout lacrosse player and student for Carthage and then SUNY Canton, died Sunday after suffering injuries in a UTV accident.
A 2012 graduate of Carthage and a 2016 grad of SUNY Canton, Gamble starred in lacrosse at both levels.
“This is a very hard time for us because Chris was one of the best I’ve ever coached,” said Carthage boys lacrosse coach Jason Coffman, who coached Gamble when he was on the junior varsity team. “And when I say one of the best, he was a really good lacrosse player, but he was just a great kid.”
A Frontier League All-Star in lacrosse at Carthage, Gamble continued playing the sport at SUNY Canton, becoming a team captain.
Gamble went on to become the first lacrosse player in SUNY Canton program history to reach and surpass the 100-point plateau.
A midfielder, Gamble totaled 112 points with the Kangaroos, including 86 goals and 26 assists. He also tallied 167 ground balls as well as 25 caused turnovers.
In 2013, Gamble was selected as SUNY Canton male rookie athlete of the year after his freshman season with the Kangaroos after he totaled 20 goals and six assists along with 42 ground balls.
“(Former Carthage boys lacrosse coach Kirk Ventiquattro) said it right, he sent a text message out to all of us talking about it,” Coffman said. “He said ‘Chris loved to score goals, he loved to win and he loved Carthage lacrosse.’”
Gamble, who earned a bachelor’s degree in business, went on to work with the family’s business, Gamble Distributors, Inc., which sells motorsports products, in Carthage.
“He loved the game so much, that even with his studies at SUNY Canton and his work back with the family business, he kept playing,” said Ventiquattro, who coached Gamble on varsity.
“They are a fixture in the Carthage community,” Ventiquattro said of the Gamble family and their business.
Ventiquattro remembered Gamble’s enthusiasm for lacrosse. In fact, Ventiquattro encouraged Gamble to take up the sport as a youth.
“This is a story I’ve told my players,” he recalled. “So my son Mario and I were out on a jet ski in the (Black) river and we needed help. I know his dad Jeff, personally, so I called him and he said ‘I’ll send my boy down’ and I had never met Chris before. And so he comes down in a boat and he and I had a conversation like he’s an adult. And actually in that 10-minute boat ride, towing the jet ski and taking us back to our vehicle, we talked him into playing lacrosse.”
Ventiquattro recalls one game in particular in which Gamble stood out on the lacrosse field.
“We were playing Oswego and this is one of the memories I have of him,” Ventiquattro said. “We weren’t exceptional when he was there and we were playing Oswego at home and we beat them quite handily, like 13-6. The Oswego coach said ‘man, you guys looked good today’ and I said ‘well, we don’t have any All-Americans.’
“But he pointed at Chris and said ‘he played like and All-American today’ and I said ‘yes, he did, he did.’”
“In fact, the first guy that I called was Trevor Gibbons, Trevor was our big goalie and Trevor and Chris were best friends,” Ventiquattro said. “Trevor was just devastated. Him and Chris were best buddies, they hunt together and fish together.”
Ventiquattro was encouraged to go to Carthage Elks Club the Wednesday night before one particular Thanksgiving as former Comets lacrosse players would be gathered there. He was glad he that he did.
“The last time I saw Chris was Thanksgiving Eve,” Ventiquattro recalled. “It’s big tradition that’s happened for a while where a lot of the graduates get together at the Elks. So I saw Chris and like all of them I gave him a big hug and we asked how we each were doing, we were doing great. We talked about hunting and so forth and I counted 30 lacrosse guys there that night.”
Visitation will be held from 3 to 7 p.m. at the Lundy Funeral Home at 500 State St. in Carthage, with the funeral service to be held at 11 a.m. Friday at the chapel of the funeral home.
Gamble’s family requests that memorial donations be made to the Carthage Area Rescue Squad, 200 Riverside Drive or to the Carthage Volunteer Fire Department, 685 South James St., Carthage NY 13619.
“Every time I saw him until a couple weeks ago, he was always happy, he always had a smile on his face, he would always come up and we would have a conversation,” Coffman said. “He’s just a great kid. He will be dearly missed for sure.”