Corina Gamboa’s development instrumental in success with CSU softball

Mack Beaulieu

It’s hard to know when someone’s changed. When comparing this year’s statistics to last, Corina Gamboa has definitely changed. But talking to those around her, it seems she’s changed less than you’d think.

As a sophomore, Gamboa is currently hitting .384 after hitting just .193 last year and being a standout in high school. The first thing Gamboa mentions when you ask her what the difference between this year and last is her mentality changing, but it sounds like through rough times, Gamboa just built on a mentality she already had.

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“She’s always kind of been the same, she did mature of course,” her mother Teresa said. “When she went away it was kind of hard, because she was going to be out in the real world by herself and she became more responsible… just in the sense of her like paying her rent, her paying her car payment, things like that. As far as major changes, she’s always been the same kid.”

Gamboa struggled at the plate her freshman year, but her willingness to take on responsibility and her success in the classroom showed she was always grinding and thriving. Last year Gamboa earned a Mountain West Scholar-Athlete Award, on top of paying her own bills and she never wavered in her commitment to the game.

“It was just a matter of time,” hitting coach Whitney Cloer said. “Some kids wait ‘til they start failing to come see the coach, but Corina’s with me when she’s having success and when she’s failing. She’s consistent in her work ethic.”

While the people around her haven’t seen much change, Gamboa maintains that her mindset did change to some extent. She struggled with her confidence as a freshman after a high school career that included three championships, two undefeated seasons and individual awards like Offensive Player of the Year and Defensive MVP. While working through her issues, she never let it show on the field.

“She could have the best or worst game and her expressions, everything just kind of stays the same,” Teresa said. “She was really down on her bat, to say you see it out on the field, she’s never shown that. She’s always been that type of person. Not to show her emotions…. Of course afterwards she calls me and we discuss it.”

Gamboa has learned to take things as they come on the field after struggling for perhaps the longest stretch of her athletic career. While she hasn’t ever waned in work ethic, she also added more of a systematic approach to her mental game at the plate.

“I was taking the first at-bat negatively,” Gamboa said. “But now I’m learning how to switch that into a positive, to take that at-bat and learn from it… I think it’s just training yourself to make it a muscle memory, so that it’s a repeated behavior, a repeated belief or attitude that you could do good and you’re capable of it.”

Gamboa has been doing all the work expected of a driven softball player for a long time, but to go so far as talking about building muscle memory as a way to build confidence shows that Gamboa is getting more out of this experience than a season where she’s on pace for the major league equivalent of 35 home runs and 140 RBIs. She’s already putting things together, with concepts that the team hopes to instill in its players and that some people never get.

“I think (teaching the girls to process what they’re doing) is what coaching is,” Cloer said. “Teaching a sport but also teaching life skills within your sport… I think what we do, like looking at swing and analyzing a swing, helps them pay attention to detail. In your life, your job and your career, you’re going to have to look at the details.”

Anyone could see, especially at first glance, that Gamboa is paying attention to the details in her swing. Couple that with her natural drive and the monster year is not that surprising. Yes, she may have changed; but growth is a more appropriate term.

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Collegian sports reporter Mack Beaulieu can be reached at sports@collegian.com or on Twitter at Macknz_James.