8B - The Michigan Daily - SportsMonday - November 17, 2003
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By Ellen McGarrity Daily Sports Writer
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The opening lyrics from Eminem's song "Lose Yourself"
hang on the wall in junior Knox Cameron's apartment bed-
But even before the song became a hit, the words have
been the theme of this Michigan men's soccer player's life.
A little over three weeks ago, Cameron ran onto Penn
State's Jeffrey Field after hearing his name announced as part
of Michigan's starting lineup. As he took his position of
attacking midfielder, he knew that there was more riding on
this game than usual.
Looking toward the sidelines, he saw his coach, Steve
Burns, who had yet to steal a win over Penn State in his four
years with the team.
Glancing up into the stands, he made eye contact with his
mom and dad, who had made the four-hour drive from the
Bronx, N.Y. to see their son play.
Staring from one goal to the other, he acknowledged his 10
teammates, who always looked to him for leadership and cre-
ativity on the field.
All these people - his coach, his parents, his teammates
- were counting on him for a repeat performance. Only two
weeks prior, Cameron had netted the game-winner in Michi-
gan's first-ever victory over Michigan State.
Twenty-one minutes into the match, neither the Wolverines
nor the Nittany Lions had clawed their way onto the score-
board. Michigan had just been awarded a corner kick, and
Cameron knew that the only way to beat Penn State was to
establish dominance early on in the game.
So when sophomore midfielder Adam Bruh sent the ball
into the frenzy of maize, blue and white, Cameron made an
effort to be on the receiving end of the pass. The ball came
down toward his head and with one shot, Cameron headed
the ball past the Penn State goalkeeper to give Michigan an
The midfielder's goal energized the Wolverines' offense,
and by the half, Michigan had a 2-1 edge. After two more
goals by Cameron in the second half, including the game-
winner, the Wolverines had earned their first-ever win over
the Nittany Lions.
Since that victory, Cameron has made one more goal -
his 12th of the season. He now holds the Michigan record for
goals scored in a season as well as career tallies, with 27.
Cameron also holds several offensive records in this year's
Big Ten Conference: shots (21), shots per game (3.50), points
(13), points per game (2.17), goals (5), goals per game (0.83)
and game-winning goals (3).
All these records no doubt made an impact when the con-
ference's coaches named Cameron Big Ten Athlete of the Year
But while Cameron is no stranger to honors and accolades,
the truly amazing thing is that he even made it to Michigan to
How does a guy who loves soccer find a way to play the
game in the streets of New York City? And how does excep-
tional talent in the game get him a ride out of there?
Thank goodness Cameron's dad found Wayne, N.J.
This player's real story began in the Bronx. The eight-year-
old Cameron was still reeling from his family's recent move
from Kingston, Jamaica to one of New York City's rougher
neighborhoods. The young boy had grown accustomed to
playing soccer - the main sport in Jamaica - barefoot and
with only a newspaper-stuffed milk carton for a ball.
Mother Maxine Cameron remembers noticing her son's
extraordinary soccer skills even at the age of three.
"He was always on the ball," Maxine said. "The things that
he did with the ball, you would wonder, 'Is that Knox?' It was
really a thrill to see him out there."
But nothing could have prepared Cameron for the streets of
the Bronx, lined with asphalt and void of green. In place of
his beloved soccer fields were cracked basketball courts with
Despite the unfriendly soccer conditions, Cameron found
ways to continue playing the game.
He started out by tagging along with his dad when he
played with a men's team in the community. The older players
were amazed at the young boy's exceptional skill, and
instructed him on how to improve his game.
When Cameron turned 12, he finally joined a team com-
posed of kids his own age. The Bronx Lions were made up of
Caribbean kids living in the Bronx. While Cameron played
on the team, it regularly placed first or second in the league.
But it soon became apparent that Cameron was going to
need a more serious arena to sharpen his soccer skills.
"The problems started when even the older team within the
league wanted me to play with them instead of playing with
my own age group," Cameron said.
This led Cameron's father to look elsewhere in search of
better soccer prospects for his son. His one opportunity turned
out to be 50 miles away in Wayne, N.J., where a friend of his
father coached a team. Cameron's father drove his son back
and forth between New York and New Jersey to ensure that
Cameron had the chance to carry on with the sport he loved.
Cameron was a well-rounded athlete, playing as he put it,
"all the American kid sports." But there was no hiding his
love for soccer. When Cameron played basketball in high
school, he remembers juggling the basketball ball during the
timeouts instead of listening to his coach.
When Cameron turned 16, he took his game to the next
level by entering the Olympic Development Program.
"For a guy of his size, he has great agility," said Brooklyn
Knights coach Dan Fisher, who coached Cameron while he
played in the ODP. "He's got great touch on the ball for a big
guy. He really has a way to calm the game down."
After first being recognized by the state of New York,
Cameron excelled in the East Coast region and finally
reached the national level. He was one of just a handful to be
picked for the Under-17 national team (also called the U17s).
All this success, but how was Cameron going to get out of
"You don't have the same opportunities as other kids,"
Fisher said. "The talent is always there, but I think a lot of
people get overlooked."
Cameron's unparalleled soccer talent, coupled with his
dedication to his academics, turned out to be his ticket to a
Division I soccer program.
Cameron actually missed his first flight to Ann Arbor. He was
late to the airport and had to take a later plane, an event he
admitted initially seemed like a bad sign.
On that second-chance flight to Michigan, Cameron recalls
having mixed feelings about the University.
"It was only an hour-and-a-half flight, but so many things
went through my mind," Cameron said. "I'm not even think-
ing that I'm going to go to school in the Midwest. I don't
even know what it looks like. Everything would just be differ-
ent from the city."
Cameron was recruited by many schools, but Michigan
was the only one in the Midwest that interested him.
Michigan men's soccer coach Steve Burns had noticed
Cameron when he was in Cincinnati, playing on a New York
team that had traveled there for a recruiting tournament.
, ; +'
The name Knox Washington Cameron is unique because it actually consists of three last names. He got the name Knox
from one of his dad's army friends. As for Washington - "I don't know where my parents came up with that one." But
make sure you get it right - when recruiting phone calls came in during his senior year of high school, Cameron said he
just hung up on the coaches that asked for, "Cameron Knox."
"I saw this big athlete playing for their central midfield,"
Burns said. "My plan had been first to build a defense -
with (seniors) Kevin Taylor and Joe Iding - and then I want-
ed to build a midfield. I wanted to pick one blue-chip player,
and Knox was that blue-chip player."
When Cameron's plane finally landed, the first thing he did
was visit the football stadium.
"The seats were all covered in snow," Cameron said. "It
was an unbelievable experience with nobody in there."
Cameron wasn't sold on the Big House alone. He said that
Burns and the members of the brand new varsity team were
what convinced him.
What's interesting, though, is that Cameron even took a
chance on Michigan's young team.
"We also had to figure out if he had the right personality,"
Burns said. "Was he the type of guy who wanted to be part of
a new program? Going to a really established program, he
was going to be another cog in the machine and have to wait
his turn to emerge as the best player, and I think he was look-
ing for a program where he could immediately establish him-
self as a dominant player and personality."
A couple weeks later, Cameron called to give Burns the
good news - he had chosen Michigan because it was every-
thing he had ever wanted in a soccer program.
At a grueling practice two weeks ago, anyone watching
could tell that Cameron is now well acclimated to life as a
Michigan soccer player.
The team was struggling through its fourth practice session
in two days to gear up for the Big Ten Tournament, but
Cameron was still invigorated by the end.
"Everybody may be down as you just saw right here, but
Cameron is the kind of guy who in one moment can just light
up a room with a smile and a sly little comment," Burns said.
"He calls me (Zinedine) Zidane - Zidane is one of the great-
est soccer players in the world right now - and he's got my
hairline. Normally, it takes some time for a younger player to
not only earn the respect of the head coach, but also be able
to call him a term of endearment. But that's just part of
In addition to his naturally ebullient aura, Burns noted that
Cameron is also a leader during games and in practice.
"Knox is a great lockerroom personality, Burns said.
"He's the guy who can keep things light, but at the same time
be serious and get his point across."
Playing in the Big Ten, Cameron often finds himself one of
just a few minorities on the field. But Cameron said this has
never been a difficulty for him.
"It's just you putting on a Michigan jersey going against
another team," Cameron said.
The Michigan men's soccer team boasts four other minori-
ty athletes besides Cameron, more than any other team in the
. f.'=old.u captCufc it.
Cameron's Mother, Maxine, said that she always knew that,
if he wanted to, Cameron would have the abilities to make it
into professional soccer.
"He's really good on the attack," fellow soccer player and
roommate Mike White said. "He's good at finishing and set-
ting people up for finishes. He's not a selfish player at all."
Knox's father agrees.
"I'm watching his game and I say, 'Knox, you need to carry
the ball more, you're going to give it up to someone who's not
going to do much with it,'"his dad, Milton, said. "And he
says, 'Dad, they're part of the team, they've got to have the
ball, too.' And if you look at it from the bright spot, he's right,
it's a team sport. He doesn't want all the glory by himself."
. It appears Cameron will have the chance. With the team's
loss in the first round of the Big Ten Tournament last Thurs-
day, Cameron's season with Michigan has now ended.
In a couple weeks, he will be playing for the U.S. Under-20
team at the FIFA World Youth Championships in the United
Arab Emirates. The next step after the U-20s is Major League
Former coach Fisher said Cameron has an excellent chance
of being a high pick for the MLS after graduation, even com-
paring his skill to former Virginia soccer player, Alecko
Eskandarian, who now plays for D.C. United.
"Knox has a brain for the game like nobody else," Fisher
said. "He's a really smart player and definitely knows how to
utilize his assets on the field. I would highly recommend any
coach taking a chance on him."
It is yet to be determined if Cameron will capture a spot in
the MLS, but one thing is for sure - he will not let his love
for soccer slip away.
Volleyball assistant takes trip dov
By Brad Johnson
Daily Sports Writer
When you walk around Value City Arena on the campus
of Ohio State, it is hard not to notice the enormous action
photo of Michigan assistant volleyball coach Leisa Rosen.
Rosen led Ohio State's volleyball team to the Final Four
during her playing days and was named an All-American
and the school's Female Athlete of the Year in 1991. The
assistant coach for the Wolverines was even inducted into
the Ohio State Athletic Hall of Fame two years ago. Even
though Leisa tries to downplay her connection to the
school, all of this history made the Wolverines' trip to
Columbus this past weekend all the more intriguing.
"I just really try and play it up as more of a match," she
said of her alma mater. "I think from a university stand-
for the Rosens. Many times, Buckeye fans will approach
Leisa and heckle her for wearing Michigan apparel, with-
out even knowing her rich history as a Buckeye volleyball
star in the early '90s.
"(The Ohio State fans) don't have any idea, they just
think it's some Michigan person," Mark said. "She will
look at them like, 'Are you kidding me? I'm in the Hall of
Being inducted into the Buckeyes' Hall of Fame was a
unique and important experience for Leisa, even though
she could not make it to the actual ceremony itself.
"I'm surrounded by some great athletes that went to
school with me," Leisa said. "It was unfortunate that I
couldn't go to (the induction) because we were actually
playing Ohio State that night. It was supposed to happen
over the weekend of September 11, but then obviously with
vn memory lane
assistant coach was the most difficult. This was the most
trying year because of the fact that she had to coach against
her former coach at Ohio State, Jim Stone.
After five years of coaching against her alma mater,
playing the Buckeyes has become more of a sentimental
exercise in remembering the past than anything else for
"It's kind of a walk in memory park," Leisa said. "I think
from a competitive standpoint all I want to do is have
Michigan win, because what I do every day of the year is
try and get us to be the best program we can be."
When asked who his wife roots for during Michigan-
Ohio State football contests, Mark laughed and deferred to
his wife for an answer so as not to "get anyone in trouble."
Not to worry though, because Leisa has steadily become
indoctrinated into the world of the Wolverines' athletics