What Have I Gotten Myself Into?

Story by Aseem Rastogi, November 2009

August Campbell, a redshirt freshman linebacker for the Duke University Blue Devils football team, asked himself this question over and over again as the frigid North Carolina cold took its toll during Duke’s 2-a-day workouts.  However, Campbell has since gotten used to the rigors of being a Division I athlete, and is flourishing in his role as a special teams player, as well as an ambassador for Bahamians in the game of football.
 
August Campbell 1 smallerThe road to Campbell’s success has not been easy.  As a child, he endured hardships that tested the will of him and his family to a point that would cause others to break.  Early in his life, the family suffered the loss of their home and all of their possessions in a house fire.  Unfortunately, there was nothing they could do at the time, leading to a separation that drove his father out of the picture.  At 14 years old, he lost several of his friends in a plane crash in Bimini.  It was not until a special baseball coach saw a future for Campbell in athletics did his fortunes begin to change.
 
Campbell grew up in Freeport, Grand Bahama as a stellar athlete in both baseball and track and field. He grew to love playing baseball and devoted much of his time from the age of 10 to perfecting his craft.  At the age of 16, his coach saw enough potential in him to set him up at The Christ School, a private school in North Carolina, some 650+ miles from home in order to pursue a dream of playing baseball at a high level.  After an initially tough adjustment, during which Campbell admittedly sobbed and longed for home, he flourished in his new role.  Little did anyone know that this move would lead to much more than just a high school baseball career.
 
Upon his arrival in Arden, NC, Campbell was greeted by temperatures similar to those in Freeport, but an entirely different environment.  His baseball coach gave the team a directive that would change Campbell’s fortunes forever. 
 
“The football team is low in numbers, so go play.  We need the conditioning,” said Campbell, “that’s what he told us.”
 
The only football exposure Campbell ever had was through the Devard and Devaughn Darling Football Camps and a flag football tournament held in Freeport years before.  Being the great athlete that he is, Campbell caught Devard Darling’s eye during a series of quarterback drills in which he was excelling. 
 
“Devard said he wanted to stay in contact with me, try to set me up at some schools in Texas to play football.  I went to North Carolina but we never lost contact.  He is like a brother to me,” said Campbell of Darling.
 
This bond, coupled with Campbell’s athletic ability, landed Campbell in the most unusual of positions.  A baseball player sent to play football for his high school team for conditioning.  Campbell achieved a bit more than just great conditioning during his three years of playing high school football, becoming an all-conference and all-state selection as a safety.  However, despite all of his football successes, he still wished to pursue baseball as his main sport.  Unfortunately, many colleges did not see it that way, offering him partial scholarships that would have put an enormous financial strain on his family.  Only one school offered Campbell a full ride, but it was in the sport he had just started playing three years ago.  That school was Duke University in Raleigh, North Carolina.
 
August Campbell 2 smallerUpon arriving at Duke, Campbell was greeted by the harsh reality of being a Division I athlete.  “It was very mentally tough, the 2-a-days, the classes and schoolwork, everything.”  Campbell eventually realized how blessed he really was to receive this opportunity. 
 
“I had offers from some other schools, but only D-IAA schools to play baseball and those weren’t even full scholarships.  Other schools told me to hold out on them for football scholarships, but they never officially offered.  Duke was the only one that did, and that’s why I am here, and I love it.”
 
The road has just begun for August Campbell’s football career.  After a redshirt year his freshman year, he is on the field today as a special teams player and backup linebacker.  Despite his budding success with football, baseball still holds a special place in Campbell’s heart.  He hopes to try out for Duke’s baseball team in the spring and continue his athletic career as a dual sport athlete.
 
As for his future, Campbell says he wishes to help kids in the same way others have helped him, perhaps even coming to the Bahamas as a counselor for the Devard and Devaughn Darling Football Camps. 
“Devard and his family are always a constant source of encouragement for me.  He always tells me I can play both sports and that my size and strength aren’t a problem with football and to make sure you love what you are doing.”

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