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Dreams Come True for Campbell
The following article first appeared in issue No. 4 of the Flames Illustrated game program for the 2012-13 basketball season, which was available at the Vines Center between Jan. 22-Feb. 14. Brittany Campbell and the first-place Lady Flames will take to the road this week, playing at UNC Asheville on Thursday and at Gardner-Webb on Saturday.
Liberty guard Brittany Campbell has always been her own team's biggest fan.
A hometown girl from Rustburg, Va., Campbell fell in love with the Lady Flames at a young age, wiping up sweat for the basketball team as a ball girl and aspiring to one day play her own part on the court.
She attended every Lady Flames basketball camp she possibly could, developing her game while being saturated in the program. "Coach Green remembers me when I was in middle school," Campbell announced, laughing.
"We've certainly seen her grow up," head coach Carey Green chuckled. "She'd come to camp in about fifth grade, walking away with MVP awards for free throws, hot-shot or scoring points. And this happened for years; year after year as a camper coming in."
Her persistence and talent garnered the coaching staff's attention. When she went on to play for Brookville High School, earning awards and setting records along the way, Green became a fixture at Campbell's games. He ultimately offered the guard a scholarship, and as only a sophomore, Campbell verbally committed to the Lady Flames.
Recalled assistant coach Heather Stephens, "I can remember Brittany as a seventh and eighth grader coming to camp. We knew she had a passion to be at Liberty - grew up wanting to be a Lady Flame - and she really developed into a great player, so we were able to make that dream come true for her."
"Liberty was definitely my dream school," Campbell stated. "Usually people don't commit until their junior or senior year, but I always knew Liberty was where I wanted to go."
Now a redshirt senior, Campbell has retained a fervor for her school although she'll be the first to admit that her college basketball career has not gone as she had imagined.
"It's definitely not been the career I thought or the career I had planned," admitted Campbell, whose seemingly constant injuries sidelined her time and again throughout the course of five seasons with the Lady Flames.
Rather than becoming disillusioned with her dream, though, Campbell chose to see opportunity within challenges, and her enthusiasm for the team and school remained constant.
"It's grown me completely," she declared of adversity. "I feel like I am the woman I am today because of all the injuries and all the mess. I'm thankful."
Campbell's teammates and coaches reaped the benefits as she continued to be an active member of the team, albeit in what she refers to as an "encouragement role."
"She's had a challenging career here because of injuries, but she's just been an ideal role model and has always been one to show great leadership on the team," said Green.
Added Stephens, "Brittany exemplifies a champion for Christ in every definition of the word, and she's transferred that to her teammates, influencing them and mentoring them as they've faced adversity of their own."
"I feel like the Lord's given me some natural-born leadership skills, so I just love being a part of this team and having a little bit of a hand in each and every player's life. People call me the team mom - it's kind of my nickname," Campbell beamed, shrugging happily. "Just little things - you know, sending text messages, making sure people are here, that we're wearing the right color for practices. Really I just love being around my teammates and supporting them. I've learned that it's not about me, so I'm always trying to reflect that."
Finally fully healthy in her fifth year with the Flames, Campbell is eager to apply that attitude to her hardwood game.
"Whether it's for 40 minutes or four minutes, she's always ready to contribute in any way she can," Stephens expressed.
Green brought up the guard's scoring capabilities. "She's probably one of our best three-point shooters or shooters period. She's definitely a deep threat who'll stretch the defense and will be one that we go to for a last-second shot or situations like that because she can knock it down," he stated. However, Campbell herself focused on other, supporting skills.
"I'm definitely focused on rebounding and trying to be really physical out there. I'm working on crisp passes - getting our posts the ball so they can score inside - and having been off the court for so long and taken on such a vocal role, I think communication is probably one of my main strengths," she recounted.
Even Campbell's favorite play fittingly results in an assist.
"I have the ball on the wing and Devon [Brown] is on the backside of the block, with someone in front guarding her. I just give her this lob pass and she always scores it because she's so wide open!" she gushed, genuinely thrilled by the sequence.
Because at the core, Campbell is still her own team's number one fan. She doesn't mind passing up her own points so teammates can score, as long as Liberty comes out on top. Her enthusiasm for the game and support of her school has never wavered, even in the midst of challenges along the way.
"I'm so thankful," Campbell summarized, "because I know God has had his hand in everything - through the injuries, through playing, through not playing - and I've just enjoyed the process. It's been such a blessing, Coach Green has been amazing and I love the Liberty family. Ever since I was a little girl, this is what I've always wanted to do. My dream has come true."
Ryley Rush is a Liberty University freshman and is a freelance writer for Liberty Athletics.