Campbell senior Sam Eberwein truly represents the term student-athlete. Not only has he earned the starting place kicking responsibilities this year, but the Clayton, N.C., resident is a three-time member of the PFL honor roll who also serves on Campbell's Student-Athlete Advisory Committee and is active in campus and community service.
Question: How ready are you to get on the field for your senior season?
Sam Eberwein: I think I've been ready for this season since coming to Campbell. In high school I didn't really get a senior season. In the second game of that year I was clipped on a kickoff and I tore my ACL and meniscus, plus a partial tear in my LCL and MCL in my left knee, so I was out the entire season. So this is my first season (as the starting PK), and I've been looking forward to that.
Q: How exciting will it be on August 30, when the Camels play their first night game in Buies Creek?
SE: It's going to be such a big deal. I know that just to have the lights is a big step. We owe a huge thanks to our Athletic Director Bob Roller for everything he has done. Campbell has continued to make football bigger and better, and the more we progress, the more support we're going to get. Playing on Thursday night is going to be huge, and we're all really excited.
Q: In addition to being a member of this football team, you are also in pharmacy school. How do you balance that busy schedule and still succeed in both of those roles?
SE: A lot of time management; and you have to make sacrifices. Sometimes when everyone is hanging out or celebrating a big win on Saturday night, I have to stay in and study. I'm just doing what everyone else is, though. I go to class; then I go to practice. Occasionally there are conflicts between the two, but with good foresight, I can be prepared.
Q: Do you have any pregame or pre-kick habits or rituals?
SE: I don't know if I have any habits, but visualization is a big deal. I think that goes for all athletics; just being able to visualize yourself doing what you need to do. Typically, I get back there, take my steps; visualize kicking the ball and sending it right down the middle and high through the uprights. You know that you have done it so many times, and you know it's going to go through. All that's left is to do it.
Q: Why did you choose Campbell?
SE: That's a long story. I was being recruiting by a lot of schools during my junior year. I kicked a game-winning field goal to break a 13-game losing streak for my school. It was big to win a game after 13 losses. I was featured in the News & Observer for that, and I picked up a lot of attention. I went through the normal string of camps during the summer after my junior year. I've always been interested in the sciences, and my dad suggested that I look into Campbell. He told me they had just started a football program and they have a really nice pharmacy school, and he thought I should check it out. Even after my injury, Coach Steele stuck with me. It's been a really nice blessing because looking back, having the opportunity to play immediately as a freshman was one of the coolest things for me. At other places, a lot of true freshmen don't get that opportunity. I made my mind up four years ago that I wanted to make pharmacy my career path, and that's another reason why Campbell was a good fit for me. I'm fortunate to be doing both of these things at the same time. It's been wonderful, and I'm looking forward to where it takes me.
Q: How does the pressure of kicking a football in front of 5,000 people compare to taking a big pharmacy exam?
SE: I don't even think about kicking anymore. I put a lot of pressure on myself to succeed. As athletes, we tend to put more pressure on ourselves than we really need to, but in my maturation process…for instance, I had a 4.0 GPA in undergrad, and that came naturally. Coming into pharmacy school, you move at such a rapid pace, and I struggled with that at first. I learned a lot about myself during my P1 year, last year…as far as pressure goes, I've become so comfortable with kicking at this point, and I know I can do it…it's not a matter of who's watching me. So I think I get more nervous about the exams.
Q: How do you stay on your game in the offseason?
SE: Lifting and working out. Coach Andrew Carter does an amazing job with our training programs. Also, I traveled all over the southeast. I went to Georgia Southern, Elon, Coastal Carolina and Jacksonville State where I was the head counselor for a kicking camp. A group of about nine of us traveled around doing kicking camps. I spent about a month of my summer doing that. That was a really good time because I had a chance to bond with kickers from other universities. They understand what you go through and they were all great people. We helped each other out with tips and form. It was a family atmosphere. I also kicked on my own, and with the rest of the summer I worked out here with the team.
Q: You have also served as a primary member of the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC) during your time at Campbell. What are some of the things that you do as a group and how special is it to be a part of that?
SE: I served on SAAC last year as the Community Service Chair. I think SAAC is wonderful. During my freshman and sophomore year, I didn't know a lot about the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee, so I spoke with Josh Owens, a former tight end on the football team and who was the vice president of SAAC. That sparked my interest and I joined. We had a lot of new people on board last year, including our AD Bob Roller and Katy Tran (Assistant Director for Academic Services), who wanted SAAC to have more of a presence on campus. I think we did a really good job of making it that last year. Being the Community Service Chair, I was involved with a lot of the projects on campus. We had a big spring highlighted by Relay for Life. Our group consisted of about 180 or 190 people, which was huge. I know I pestered all the athletes so they would join (laughs), so I know they got tired of getting emails from me, but it was for a good cause. We also had the CAMMYS. That was fantastic, and I'm excited again for this year. I think it has a chance to be even better. Hopefully I can be a big part of that again this year.
Q: Where do you plan to practice once you graduate from pharmacy school? Why?
SE: I've looked into a lot of options. I had a rotation this summer at a Walgreens, which I loved. The really nice thing about coming to graduate school is that it is very serious. What we learn in the classroom can be applied directly in the field, and I found that to be very rewarding. At this point, I'd like to do a residency and get more experience after graduation. I'm looking into oncology or nuclear pharmacy as well, which are two areas I'm interested in. At this point, being as progressive as pharmacy is, constantly changing, I think when I graduate there will be new opportunities that I haven't even explored yet.
Q: Looking back, what has been your favorite football memory at Campbell?
SE: One of the more recent memories was the Butler game last year. I just remember my leg feeling great, and as an athlete, you know when you had a good performance. I've had a lot of great memories here. A lot of them come from just traveling with the team for road games. I don't think I could pick just one.
Q: What is your favorite part about being a student at Campbell?
SE: Probably when I got into pharmacy school. That was a lot of work and a lot of preparation. I got accepted pretty early, October of my sophomore year. It was such a weight off my shoulders to know this was what I'd be doing.
Q: You have a perfect extra point record over your career. What is it like, mentally, going in and kicking a PAT when everyone considers it a given when it's really not? How do you stay focused?
SE: It's funny you mention that. That's what it's like as a kicker. That's something a lot of people don't get a chance to experience because they're never in those shoes. When everybody else is going crazy, you have a job to do, and you have to make sure you do your job and do it well, making sure nothing else is in the way. So, I love it when we score because that means I get playing time (laughs). As a kicker, it's my time to put that cherry on top.
Q: What has it been like being a part of building this football program?
SE: It's exciting. I think it's even more exciting for this group of seniors. We have such a small number of seniors, and I think it's our time to step up and continue to lead this program in the direction it needs to go. We have such a young team, and we just hope to take them in the right direction.