The student news site of Los Altos High School in Los Altos, California

The Talon

The student news site of Los Altos High School in Los Altos, California

The Talon

The student news site of Los Altos High School in Los Altos, California

The Talon

Carson Gamble scores soccer commitment to LeTourneau University

Janavi Ramde
Senior Carson Gamble poses in LeTourneau gear on senior signing day.

For senior Carson Gamble, soccer is everything. Even if it means getting nailed in the face.

It seemed like a routine play: the Carlmont Scots, who Los Altos faced that night, sent the Eagles’ defense scrambling as they pushed toward the goal. Carson, the Eagles’ goalkeeper, has played the position since he was eight. Nearly a decade of experience in the goal box taught him not to hesitate as he stared head-first into the path of an oncoming Scot. In the span of a second, the ball ricocheted off Carson’s face, his head snapping back as the ball skittered past the goal into the darkness. He had saved the team from going down 0–2, but that was the least of his worries as he lay in a minute-long daze.

“I didn’t feel like I was knocked out, but people were like, ‘Yeah, you just laid dead still on the ground for a bit,’” Carson said.

While most people would tap out, Carson remained by the net for another half hour before bending over in dizziness and collapsing. As he was carted off the field, he wasn’t thinking about suffering a second major concussion in three years, potentially ending his career. Going into recovery meant sacrificing weeks of his senior season — time with his teammates that he wouldn’t get back.

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“He cares so much,” teammate and junior Kapil Jakatdar said. “He takes it to the heart every time.”

Even with the recurring headaches and warnings from doctors, Carson wasn’t about to walk away from the sport he spent 14 years mastering. Rather, it was only natural to take the next step and sign his commitment papers to LeTourneau University earlier this year.

Carson’s love for the game began early when he joined the De Anza Force Soccer Club, a nationally competing powerhouse team. In sixth grade, he played internationally for the first time in a showcase tournament in Spain against other foreign teams. Although Carson has remained in the country since then, the demands of club play have him traveling anywhere from Foothill College to out-of-state nearly every weekend.

“You obviously have to keep up with your school work while you compete and also focus on soccer,” Carson said. “Aside from that, it’s been awesome to go to a bunch of new environments. It’s a lot of dedication, but it’s entirely worth it in the end.”

For Carson, joining the high school team was a step down from his usual level of play. When he joined the LAHS team in his junior year, a deep playoff run convinced him to return as a senior.

“I usually play against my school teammates [during club season] but now I’m playing with them,” Carson said. “It’s super fun, and knowing who they are makes you feel more connected on and off the field.”

In-game play is generally isolating for goalkeepers when the rest of the team is downfield. Carson developed his own form of pregame meditation to prepare for the long stretches standing in front of the net: while the team hyped up with rap and trap beats, he opted for the calming serenades of Frank Sinatra or Zach Bryan’s long country drawls.

“I can’t listen to rap music before games because it gets me in the wrong headspace,” Carson said. “I don’t want to be super pumped up and really eager to go out and be aggressive in a game.”

This season, Carson was named captain and took on greater responsibility in ensuring the team’s success. Starting the season 0–3 presented him with various challenges to address, whether that was players ignoring coaching, poor sportsmanship or receiving a red card himself for lashing out at a referee.

Carson acknowledged that given the near-zero margin of error that goalies are shouldered with, it was difficult to see his teammates acting below the standard he holds himself to.

“At the end of the day, we were all on a team so we all forgave each other’s mistakes and those problems helped grow us closer together,” Carson said. “I started working on being more positive overall, not just towards my team, but towards myself, like accepting that the mistakes happened.”

His teammates noticed his leadership as the Eagles began to find their stride. Kapil recalled that Carson became increasingly unafraid to use his voice to resolve problems both on and off the field.

“He’s just a good dude and it’s easy to work hard with him on the team,” teammate and senior Ben Hobson said.

Carson’s growth as captain came full circle when he was sidelined for two weeks in concussion protocol. The team’s backup goalie, senior Erich Neschleba, shined at the position while he supported the team from the bench. Carson recognized that despite being on the varsity team since junior year, Eric hadn’t received much playing time.

“I told the coach, ‘Hey, he’s doing great, the team’s doing great, so why not just stick him in goal for the rest of the season?’” Carson said.

Carson ended up playing at forward during senior night — something he hadn’t done since he was nine — and the team got a shutout win over Santa Clara, a team who had beaten the Eagles 5–1 earlier in the season.

With the victory, the team completed their season turnaround and advanced to the CCS playoffs for the second year in a row.

“I sprinted all the way across the field, and I’m like, ‘this is the most fun I’ve ever had in my life,’” Carson said. “Before the second goal, I just launched the ball 50 yards down the field and [senior Nikhil Morales] ran with it and scored, and that’s the first time I’ve ever gotten an assist. That was probably in the top three most special nights of soccer in my life.”

Carson looks forward to continuing his soccer career at the collegiate level at LeTourneau University, a private Christian school in east Texas that competes at the Division III level. LeTourneau fulfills Carson’s love for Texas and allows him to stay as a goalkeeper — all but one of the Yellowjackets’ goalies graduated this year.

He plans to double major in history and political science with a minor in education, hoping to eventually become a professor in a history-related field.

“My whole life, I’ve always liked helping people, whether it be in soccer, school or just in general,” Carson said. “I just love talking to people and trying to help them figure things out.”

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About the Contributors
Matthew Diederich
Matthew Diederich, Senior Writer
Janavi Ramde
Janavi Ramde, Staff Writer

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