Ethan Campbell learned a valuable lesson growing up playing football in Texas.
"The biggest thing that they taught us was to never quit," said Campbell, who had no idea how much that mindset would pay off down the road.
Overcoming a hamstring injury that sidelined Campbell for his entire senior football season, the Wilsonville wide receiver recently signed with Division-II Azusa Pacific University.
"It was rewarding," Campbell said. "There were a lot of people that told me I was never going to make it, and never reach my goals and go to a good school and get my education paid for, and that's exactly what I did. That's what I told my parents I was going to do since I was 5 years old. I'm very happy with where I'm ending up, very blessed."
Growing up in Austin, Texas, Campbell moved to Bend and spent his sophomore and junior years at Summit High School.
But Campbell did not get as much playing time as he thought he earned, which made getting the attention of colleges difficult.
"Because of that, I was pretty much unheard of, which was really frustrating, and my senior season was supposed to be very, very important," Campbell said.
Campbell said he first injured his hamstring about two weeks before Wilsonville's first football game at Crater. He got shoved in the back while running and overstrided.
Campbell worked with a physical therapist to get back on the field, and started the Wildcats season opener, before fully tearing the hamstring in the second quarter at Crater. His season, and high school football career was over.
"I felt like I wasn't done with high school football, and I had to be, which was a really frustrating feeling," Campbell said. "I felt like I hadn't done enough and hadn't got a fair chance to show what I can do as an athlete."
Fortunately, even though Campbell had been at Wilsonville for a short time, the football team already had become like a family.
"These guys are really tight-knit," Campbell said. "They're a really special group. For me when I got hurt, it was just about family. I stayed with it. I stuck with it. I supported my teammates through ups and downs. I tried my best not to miss any practices at all. I was there every day even though I was hurt. I kept my head up. What else can I do? I'm supposed to be a good teammate, and that's exactly what I was going to do. I love these guys. I absolutely love these guys."
The summer before his senior year, Campbell had attended multiple camps to get the attention of college coaches. He was in contact with Eastern Washington and Montana.
"Once I tore my hamstring, most of the schools had heard about it and either pulled scholarship money or weren't interested anymore and weren't responding to me," Campbell said.
After Wilsonville's football season, Campbell attended a camp at Azusa Pacific to prove he was healthy.
"Even though I was hurt and even though I didn't have any senior film, they really didn't care," Campbell said of Azusa Pacific. "I think my biggest thing was the coaches had a lot of integrity. They're a very good coaching staff, godly men, and I took that into account when I was looking at the schools I wanted to go to. It was definitely one of my best options."
Campbell plans to major in kinesiology and minor in business. He wants to open his own gym.
"I take out freshmen now and train them and talk about recruiting, and how to be more efficient with that stuff," Campbell said. "I've found that's something that I love. It comes very easily to me."
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