Resilience: Jordyn Cambridge’s impact on Vanderbilt Women’s Basketball

Vanderbilt’s Jordyn Cambridge on finding herself in the absence of basketball and in the company of injury.
Jordyn Cambridges experience and work-ethic has led her to the position she is in today. (Hustler Multimedia/Lexie Perez)
Jordyn Cambridge’s experience and work-ethic has led her to the position she is in today. (Hustler Multimedia/Lexie Perez)
Lexie Perez

In August 2022, Vanderbilt graduate student Jordyn Cambridge tweeted that she would miss the entirety of the upcoming season after suffering an Achilles rupture. This news was devastating for the program and its fans, as Cambridge was coming off a senior season full of accolades. She had earned an All-SEC Defensive Team selection and a nomination to the Naismith Women’s Defensive Player of the Year Watch List, while also being the first NCAA Division I men’s or women’s player to reach 100 steals and 100 assists on the season. 

“I am resilient enough to overcome any adversity that comes my way… I am looking forward with positive energy only,” Cambridge said in her August 2022 tweet. 

Just over a year later, in her sixth year of collegiate basketball, Cambridge has fulfilled her promise. She is fueled by resilience, positive energy and an unwavering faith ingrained into everything she does.

When she was still in high school, those around Cambridge knew she was unique as a leader and a player. Mary Taylor Cowles, Jordyn’s high school basketball coach at the Ensworth School in Nashville, recalls when she started coaching the team during Cambridge’s sophomore year.

“When I got here, it was very obvious and very easy to see the talent that she has just simply from a purely athletic standpoint on the basketball court,” Cowles said, “She understands basketball. She’s just a real basketball-savvy young lady, and that’s extremely valuable.” 

When deciding where she would continue her academic and athletic career, Vanderbilt checked all the boxes on Jordyn’s list.

“The first reason [for committing to Vanderbilt] was that it’s right here in Nashville and really close to home,” Cambridge told The Hustler. “Second was the school. I wanted to make sure that I was going to be setting myself up to be successful when I [was] done playing basketball. The third reason was because I wanted to play in the SEC and be a part of being impactful to the team that I’m playing on.” 

Jordyn has been undeniably impactful from the moment she stepped on Vanderbilt’s campus, where her performance on the court is synonymous with excellence. The numbers speak for themselves; Cambridge has played in 91 games for the Commodores and started 36, accruing 692 points, 252 steals, 420 rebounds and 313 assists thus far.

“I work hard for my team every day. I hold myself to a different standard every day, and that never wavers,” Jordyn said.

Yet, with every step of success she’s received at Vanderbilt, Cambridges’s challenges have come in the way of injury. Throughout both high school and college, Cambridge suffered injuries to both ACLs as well as her Achilles, forcing her to miss three full seasons. These injuries gave Cambridge a new perspective and appreciation for the game and herself.

“One of the biggest things that my injuries all three of them really told me is not to take things for granted. The first few times I got hurt, I really didn’t know who I was outside of basketball. Something that I’ve been really proud of is that I’m not defined by basketball,” Cambridge said of her injuries. “Basketball is just something that I do for fun. I love the game. But, the world is so big.” 

Through fighting the mental battle associated with returning from prolonged injuries, Cambridge feels that she can now conquer anything that life throws at her. She serves as a shining example of the importance of working on your mental and physical strength.

“Keep going,” Cambridge said. “I think the mental part of coming back from injury is way harder than the physical part. It’s the mental battle…even with this recent injury, even though it was my third time, I still had a really hard time mentally at some points.” 

Now, with the perspectives that her injuries and six years at Vanderbilt have brought her, Cambridge tries to challenge her teammates to view the game as a cherished opportunity to do what they love. She hopes this mentality will result in the program’s first trip to the NCAA tournament in 10 years. 

At the 2023-2024 SEC Media Day, head coach Shea Ralph spoke about the champion mentality and leadership that Cambridge brings to the team.

“[Jordyn] is the heart and soul of our team. To me, her perseverance and her resiliency [are] indicative of what I want our program to represent,” Ralph said. “I know that if we can have the attitude that Jordyn brings every single day… I’m excited to see what our program will produce this year.” 

It is apparent through the first five games of the season that her teammates have bought into this mentality, as the team has gotten off to a hot 5-0 start.

“She’s still standing strong, and she’s still playing with the same burning desire and love for the game and loves to compete the same way that she was when I met her as a sophomore in high school. So, it’s pretty special to see somebody like that,” Mary Taylor Cowles said after recently attending the Commodores’ game against Western Kentucky. 

Regardless of how this season ends, the lasting legacy that Cambridge has left on this program is apparent. She prides herself on making sure she is actively creating a culture of excellence. 

“I just hope that I leave a legacy for younger people after me,” Cambridge said. “[So] they know what it takes to work really hard and what you will get if you work really hard.” 

Athlete or not, everyone can learn from how Cambridge goes about her daily life.

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About the Contributors
Grace Hall, Assistant Sports Specialist
Grace Hall (‘26) is from Belfast, Maine, and is majoring in public policy studies in the College of Arts and Science. Grace is also the vice-president of the Vanderbilt Club Field Hockey Team. When not writing for The Hustler you can find her watching the Boston Red Sox or Celtics, reading or at a concert. You can reach her at [email protected].
Lexie Perez, Graphics Director
Lexie Perez (‘26) is from Northern Virginia and is majoring in climate studies and human and organizational development and minoring in business in the College of Arts and Science. She enjoys listening to 70s and 80s pop music, doing the daily Wordle and rooting for the Nashville Predators and Cincinnati Bengals. She can be reached at [email protected].
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