by Paul Morgan
Whether driving a van full of volleyball players from Albion to a match, or a food truck selling healthy items around Kalamazoo, Kim Marble ’10 and Bridgett Blough ’08 carry a Kalamazoo College "More In Four" experience of which volleyball was an indispensable element.
When Marble needs a pick-me-up after a tough match as Albion’s assistant volleyball coach, the former Hornet volleyball player knows her former coach, Jeanne Hess, is just a text message away.
"Recently, I sent Coach Hess texts about this-and-that," Marble said. "I have a close relationship with her and she impacted my life."
"We had a tough year (Albion didn’t win a match in the MIAA), but I always know I can text her and she will text me back an inspirational message."
For Blough, volleyball and her economics and business major were paths which have helped the St. Joseph Lake Michigan Catholic graduate to start a business of her own, the Organic Gypsy food truck.
"I loved volleyball and knew being active and physically fit, and eating healthy was something I wanted to keep doing after I finished the sport," Blough said. "One professor who had a profound impact on my academics was Tim Moffit."
"He and I connected because he’s a small business lover."
Marble went to Kalamazoo College because she wanted to stay close to her Parchment (Mich.) roots and also to play volleyball. She graduated in 2010 with a degree in anthropology and sociology, not exactly a conventional choice for most prospective coaches.
"In my sophomore year, I had to declare a major and I was interested in traveling. I also thought that in coaching you have to understand the differences in people." she said.
She admits she wasn’t used to Hess’ coaching style of not only building volleyball players but also building the person.
"It resonated with me after a while," she said. "It’s the process of helping a player find out what she wants to do next."
Her degree has helped her feel more comfortable talking to high school coaches and putting Albion’s name out there as a possible destination point for their players. She’s been putting on the miles as she drives around, seeing a lot of high school volleyball.
However, because of her assistant coaching duties she wasn’t able to play in the annual Kalamazoo College alumni match which is held during homecoming weekend. And the MIAA match on that Saturday was against Albion.
"I couldn’t play in the match because I had to drive the team van from Albion," she said with a laugh.
Blough, 27, has had an athletic and an entrepreneurial spirit tugging at her since she arrived at school, and both involved wellness and food.
"The wellness part was through Jeanne Hess because she talked about the wellness and holistic approach to being an athlete," Blough said. "Another component was the first-year seminar, and mine was about commitment, and how it’s transformed into food."
The seminar was the first time she really thought about the idea of farm-to-table and the importance farmers play in local economies.
"After I graduated, I knew that being an athlete would influence what I wanted to do," she said.
She worked in the health and wellness industry for five years as a personal trainer, yoga and Pilates teacher, and volleyball coach.
"Then I really realized how much food had to do with the overall wellness of a person, and that was the missing component," Blough said.
She went to Bauman College in Berkeley, Calif., and is now a certified natural chef. The
"Oh my gosh, I've started a restaurant...!"Organic Gypsy food truck has just come together this year, and Blough still chuckles about what she has done in the past 10 months.
"I thought about this and it’s like, ‘Oh my gosh, I’ve started a restaurant by myself,’ " she said.
She drives the truck from her home in Coloma to Kalamazoo and parks near Bronson Park. She also takes it to the Kalamazoo farmer’s market where she purchases her food, and she was open for business at various locations on campus during homecoming.
"People ask what kind of truck it is because most food trucks are focused around one kind of food," she says. "I visited Portland, Ore., to scout trucks, and that city has a French fry truck, a peanut butter and jelly truck, trucks which are focused on one food item," she said. "Because what I serve is from the farm, I have to be flexible with my menu."
"I like to do various things, but I always have a sandwich."
She found an old oven which fits perfectly in the truck. The problem was it wasn’t a perfect oven.
"I really wanted that oven," she said. "I’ve spent so much money rehabbing it because it didn’t work, so I probably should have bought a new one."
She also makes her own root beer and maple syrup from Michigan-sourced products.
While their days of playing volleyball are over, both Blough and Marble maintain their connection to Hornet volleyball, and both were grateful to be on campus for homecoming in their own unique ways.
The best way to find The Organic Gypsy on the street is to follow it on Facebook or Twitter.
Photo 1 - Bridgett Blough and her food truck. (photo by Nadia Torres ’16)
Photo 2 - Kim Marble in conflicting colors at the Alumni Volleyball Game.