By McKenna MIDDLETON, intern
Success is rarely something stumbled upon in an episode of serendipity, as pro football player and former Crescenta Valley High School student Sam Campbell has discovered.
Since graduating from CVHS in 2010, Campbell has been on a long and winding journey pursuing a football career. He attended Glendale Community College for two years, where he was voted team captain as a freshman – a GCC first. While playing there, he became a player of interest for the University of Southern California, Washington State University, and other NCAA Division One schools. Despite the offers Campbell received, he found he was not eligible to accept them because of a summer school class he took that schools claimed did not meet NCAA standards.
Despite the setbacks, Campbell prefers to look on the bright side.
“No matter what happens, you have to learn to be grateful for what you do have,” Campbell said. “No road is straight and if you can’t handle the adversities of life you can’t handle the adversities of football.”
Illinois State University was one of the schools that expressed interest in Campbell and provided him with resources necessary to make him eligible to play Division One collegiate football. Campbell transferred to ISU in 2012 before his junior year of college.
“I didn’t really get a chance to show everything I was able to do my first season at ISU,” Campbell said.
Along the way, he questioned his decision to move so far from home because he didn’t play much of his first season. But he was able to move forward in other areas of importance, specifically his faith through on-campus ministries. Campbell said he values the relationships he formed and grew with his peers and family during this time. In 2013, he received significantly more playing time during the inaugural season of the new ISU Stadium.
Campbell was able to graduate in 3.5 years with a degree in sociology and communications. When he returned to La Crescenta, he spent time training for multiple NFL regional combines with dreams of playing professional football. During this time, he used CVHS and GCC facilities to train and was able to encourage local students.
After a frustrating few months of dead ends, he decided to attend an open tryout with the arena pro football team, the LA KISS. Campbell impressed the coaches and was asked to practice with the team before getting signed.
“That’s the way my life has always kind of worked out: I have to go to a smaller league before I can go to the bigger league,” Campbell said of his initial hesitation in accepting the offer.
A few weeks after being signed to the LA KISS, Campbell was cut from the team and asked to move to the practice squad and play for free. But one weekend a few weeks later he was finally asked to play for the LA KISS in a pro game and to sign a new contract. Campbell, No. 64 for the LA KISS, played in the last two games of the regular season as starting fullback, scoring two touchdowns in the last game.
The coaches of the LA KISS are prepared to sign Campbell for next season after his impressive performances. He is excited to be asked back, but is still hoping to play for the NFL in the near future, staying true to his life motto “ambition equals victory.”