Ever since he was young, Cameron Tripp has always strived to ‘be an 11’. Whether it is in the classroom or on the field, he pushed himself to work harder than the competition, ensuring he would be the best. Life hasn’t always been positive for this quarterback. Adversity followed him throughout his youth, and where some would have taken the easy road and made excuses, he chose to use it as motivation. From a young age, Cam knew that in order to achieve his dreams, he would have to be a warrior and battle through everything life had to throw at him.
The fight began five weeks before his due date, when Cam was born prematurely. While staying in the hospital for a grueling 10 weeks, he fought his way back to health before being admitted and joining his family at home. Even though he was no longer in the hospital, he was still battling through health issues, and had to wear a heart monitor the first four months of his life. During this time, he developed a strong will to survive, and persevered through everything that came his way. He was not going to give up. Just as everyone thought things were finally settling down, he was diagnosed with a very rare illness called pyloric stenosis. Pyloric stenosis causes constant vomiting, which can lead to dehydration and fluid imbalances. He had surgery shortly after to fix the issue, which gave him a battle scar on his stomach - a constant reminder that everyday he gets bigger and stronger, he is defying the odds.
During his final year of high school, he faced a yet another challenge. Unlike the others, this one would require more mental strength than physical strength. Midway through the season, the head coach of his football team passed away unexpectedly. Knowing how to push his body to its limits was a test he had overcome many times. But, he channeled the inner strength that had built up since he was born, and remained focused while putting on a brave face for his team, when he himself often found it difficult to cope with the loss. “I was able to overcome it through extremely high amounts of support from my family, teammates, and community. Without them, I’m not sure how it would have turned out.” he recalls.
Despite the constant adversity, Cam excelled in both sports and academics at Piedmont High School in Monroe, North Carolina. Because of his large stature, measuring in at 6 feet 6 inches, he attracted attention from many top universities in both football and basketball. After much consideration, Harvard felt like home. “It’s the number one school in the country and they also win Ivy League championships in football, so it was the perfect mix for me.” With no plans to go pro, the exemplary academics were one of the deciding factors.
Adjusting to college life is difficult for every young adult. You move to an unfamiliar place and have to leave the comfort of your family and friends behind. Now, imagine having to manage the superior academic challenges that come with being a Harvard undergraduate. On top of all this, many of your free hours are spent in the weight room and on the football field rather than in the library. Being able to succeed with the intense pressures is laborious. Cam spent his freshman year learning just how he could succeed on the field, but most importantly off the field. “Being a Harvard football player definitely has its challenges, whether it is balancing work with practice, waking up early for lifts, or spending extra hours after practice to break down film. These challenges are unique to athletes and I think magnified because of the rigorous academic schedule Ivy’s provide.” Cam confides. Adjusting to his busy schedule is an evolving process, but with every day that passes by, he learns certain keys to make the transition smoother.
One of the many things that struck me as very unique about Cam was his ambition to be more than the ‘football player’. Success on the football field is important, but the desire to be a successful man is more much extensive. The person in his life that influenced him to grow up with these values was his father. “My father is my role model. He has set a great example for me and my sister, he’s shown me how to be a man and be a great father which is more meaningful than sports in the grand scheme of things.” explains Cam. Academics come first, and in a world where universities are caught creating fake classes for athletes just to falsify a sufficient GPA to continue their sport, this characteristic that he holds should be highly regarded.
The past 19 years of Cam’s life have been filled with adversity, perseverance, and determination. However, he does not credit himself for his current situation. “I am a product of my environment, I wouldn’t be here without all the love and support from everyone that was with me through the process.” Every situation brought new challenges, but also made him into the man he is today – ambitious, respectful, and well rounded. After battling through adversity time and time again, we recognize and praise how far he has come, and the success he has earned. There is no doubt that over the next three years he will excel on the football field, graduate with honors in his chosen field, and grow to become an even better man off the field.
Cam’s Advice: My advice for young players is to keep striving to be the best player he or she can be, and to not be deterred by any early adversity. And another thing would be a piece that was told to me that stuck, and it was to fall in love with the process of preparation.