Many think that in order to be a part of college athletics, you need to be recruited from an early age to play for any team. But that’s just not the case for many student athletes. Colleges all across the country, and especially at SUNY, produce competitive teams in many sports that find their star athletes through open tryouts and walk-ons. These athletes all have access to a March Madness style competitive environment of their own, just like Camden Chance at SUNY Oswego.
Born and raised in a small town about 45 minutes south of Oswego called Clyde, Camden Chance has been playing basketball since he could talk and walk. He initially picked up the game to follow in his older brother’s footsteps, and once he was old enough, Camden joined a local CSYBO league and fell in love with the game. He has been playing basketball competitively ever since, and now, at the age of 20, he plays for the men’s basketball team at SUNY Oswego.
During the college search process, Camden was being recruited for basketball and football, but his main priority was identifying a school that offered the major he was interested in. Specifically, he was looking for a school with a strong computer science program. After narrowing down search to two colleges, with Oswego being one of them, Camden’s advisor helped him do some research. He felt that Oswego had the better computer science program, which ultimately solidified his decision.
Camden didn’t make sports a priority during the college search, and didn’t anticipate on playing, but during his first couple weeks at Oswego, he changed his mind. “After settling in for a couple weeks, I had hours of free time every day and didn’t know what to do,” he shares. Camden learned that the basketball tryouts were taking place soon from Coach Jason Leone. He asked Coach Leone for details about the tryout process and learned more about what the coach was looking for in a player.
After this conversation, Camden felt like he would be a good fit, tried out for the team, and ultimately made it as a walk-on player. Since Camden has been on the team, there have been a lot of memorable moments. “By far the best moment, or now moments, is winning back-to-back SUNYAC League titles,” Camden notes. In fact, it was the first time that the basketball team has won back-to-back conference titles in decades. Camden notes “the feeling is like no other,” when reflecting on the wins.
Success beyond the court
There are also other benefits to playing basketball for Camden, such as teaching him how to handle adversity. “It teaches you that not everything will always go your way and how to bounce back from that,” he shares. It also can teach you that some people may be more naturally gifted, but working hard can help even the playing field and make you as good, if not better, than others.
In terms of Camden’s academic career, he changed his major from computer science to informational science and then to physics, and is enjoying his coursework and anticipates staying with this major for the remainder of his studies at Oswego. Being a student-athlete definitely has its challenges at times, though. “Balancing athletics with academics is very difficult and takes time to get used to. You really have to find a system that works for you in terms of balancing out things,” shares Camden. He especially finds that having a routine and sticking to it helps him to stay on top of his studies, as well as taking advantage of tutors that help with the team.
Now that Camden has discovered the major that works best for him, he is hoping to land a job as a research scientist with his physics degree after graduation. He has found, so far, that his time at Oswego has been very beneficial. “Playing basketball on a successful team teaches me how to compete and create good balancing skills,” shares Camden. He has also made a lot of friends on the team, which has helped to create a network of support. Lastly, playing basketball at the collegiate level has taught Camden how to make his own decisions and be more independent as he moves through life.
For those who may want to follow in Camden’s footsteps, he advises “… no one can stress enough the importance of grades. Grades are the most important thing to you when searching, so make sure to stay on top of your grades and put a lot of time into them.” Another piece of advice is to not stress out too much about your major and that you can use the first year of college to decide what you want to do with your career path: “So don’t stress out about not having a major coming into college and also don’t pick one just because you think you have to. Even after college starts for you, you can change your major as many times as you would like to find what works for you.”