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Gambol was a 'late' bloomer

Still a Wildcat Hall of Famer

Gambol in action for Iowa (click for larger version)
August 04, 2010 - Christopher "Chris" Gambol certainly made his mark on the prep scene at Oxford High School. A late bloomer, Gambol turned into one of the most powerful athletes to embrace the blue and gold, thus earning him a spot in the charter class of the Oxford High School Athletic Hall of Fame.

"It's a great honor," said Gambol. "I was very surprised to hear about it and very honored.

Playing defensive end for the Wildcats, Gambol suffered a knee injury that would only allow him to play his final four games of his junior season. However, that injury did not stop Gambol from catching the eye of University of Iowa Hawkeye Head Coach Hayden Fry at a summer camp in 1982.

In addition to his dominance on the gridiron, gambol was also a star for the Wildcat track and field team.

Under Elmer Ball, Gambol earned three varsity letters as a discus and shot put thrower. Gambol earned all-state honors as a shot putter and set the OHS record in the discus event with a throw of 157 feet, four inches. The record would stand for 20 years.

After graduating in 1982, Gambol entered the University of Iowa on a scholarship as a two-sport performer, making an immediate impact as a member of the track team. While at Iowa, he earned his BBA degree in finance in 1986 and an MBA from Iowa in 1991.

In 1986, he won the Central Collegiate Championships in the shot put, and followed it up with a banner year in 1987. He captured the Drake and Princeton Relays shot put titles, the National Invitation Championship in shot put and the discus as well as both events at the Central Collegiate Championships. He was also the Big Ten Conference outdoor champion in the shot put, setting a record at 60 feet ˝ inch, a record that would stand for 14 years.

He was a four-year letter winner and Track team co-champion.

"There were a couple of us fortunate enough to compete in two sports…we still had to participate in all of the football offseason workouts and then we had to go to our track workouts," he said.

While impressive on the track and field team, he was bulking up and helping anchor the Hawkeye offensive line to a 1985 Big Ten Championship, a spot in the Rose Bowl and a number nine national ranking at seasons end.

By his senior season in 1986, he was up to nearly 300 pounds, and after the season was over, was the first Hawkeye lineman taken in the 1987 National Football League Draft (3rd round, 58th overall) by the Indianapolis Colts.

"It was great," he said. "You grow up watching Big Ten football and to be able to play was a great experience. To play Michigan, Michigan State and the Big Ten schools and go to the Rose Bowl was a lot of fun, but it was a lot of work."

While at Iowa, his offensive line coach was Kirk Ferentz, who currently serves as the Iowa Head Coach.

After spending the entire 1987 season on injured reserve, he played one game for the Colts in 1988 before being picked up by the San Diego Chargers.

After playing in 11 games for the Chargers in 1988, he came back home to play in six games for the Detroit Lions in 1989.

His final stop was in New England, where is played in 15 of 16 games for the Patriot's.

When asked how it felt being inducted in the same class as Ball, Gambol thought it was great.

"I couldn't think of a better person to be inducted with," Gambol said. "He has really meant a lot to me and if it weren't for Elmer helping me early on, I might not have been able to do the things I did."

Gambol currently resides in Illinois, where he works in the insurance business. He would like to thank Steve Laidlow for the nomination, adding that he was looking forward to coming back for the ceremony.

Andrew Moser is a staff writer for the Oxford Leader.
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