A lot of people know Katie Campbell as the feisty guard who delivered hustle minutes off the bench in her first season as a Gonzaga Bulldog last year. What many don’t know is her journey to get there.
Campbell was a high school star. She attended Westlake High School in Oxnard and won every possible award you could think of in California. She was League MVP, First Team All-State, and a McDonald’s All-American nominee. Her team went 40-0 in league play and she finished as the career leader in steals and second in points and three-pointers.
Campbell signed to play at Washington State. Then, her life changed. Campbell found out she was pregnant with her daughter Ava during her senior year of high school. Campbell was able to finish her classes and complete the basketball season, including a 23-point performance while four months pregnant in a state tournament victory.
Campbell decided to postpone going out of state for college in order to take care of her daughter. She enrolled locally at Ventura College, just north of Oxford. She took classes, played on the basketball team and worked 25 hours a week to clothe and feed Ava. She had to cut out extra shooting sessions so she could spend more time being a mother. Much like motherhood, it forced her to adapt. She became a more complete player. The 5’10” guard averaged 18.4 points, 6.3 rebounds, and 3.6 assists a game while waitressing and also maintaining a 4.0 GPA her first semester.
She was still being recruited by several out of state schools while playing at Ventura, and eventually decided to make the leap to Gonzaga. If there’s one school that is known for family and would welcome Campbell and Ava with open arms, it’s Gonzaga. It was a natural fit.
Campbell is entering her junior season of eligibility. She is majoring in biology with hopes of going to medical school and possibly become a labor and delivery nurse. Last season, she played in 29 games and averaged a touch over seven minutes. As I’ve written multiple times, there are minutes to be had at the backup guard position this season. Katie Campbell has as good a shot as anyone to pick up those minutes and contribute.
Whether she plays 15 minutes, 5 minutes, or 0 minutes, the fact that she is here is a testament to determination, dedication, and grit. It’s an inspirational story of hard work, love, and sacrifice that represents who Katie Campbell is, who Gonzaga is, and something all of us can learn from.