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Staying close to home suits Young fine

Lady Bulldog soccer player heading to USC-Lancaster

Posted: March 5, 2018 2:54 p.m.
Updated: March 6, 2018 1:00 a.m.
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CAMDEN SENIOR CAMERON YOUNG signed a National Letter of Intent to contunue her academic and soccer-playing pursuits at USC-Lancaster while flanked by her grandmother, Sharon Rider, her mother, Phyllis Rider, and father, Brian Young. Standing, from left, are her sisters, Olivia Collins and Chelsea Collins, her stepfather, Bobby Jackson, her stepmother, Angie Young, and Lady Bulldogs head soccer coach Aaron Mayes.

Call it a package deal in the form of one person.

Sound complicated? It really is not, at least as far as Cameron Young is concerned.

When it came time for Young, a senior soccer player at Camden High School, to select a college, she chose and then signed a National Letter of Intent with USC-Lancaster. By staying close to home, it will allow the Lady Bulldog center back to keep a close watch on what is near and dear to her --- namely her two younger sisters --- and Camden girls’ soccer.

“I wanted to try and stay close to home because I have two younger sisters who I want to try and get into athletics and keep holding to them for as long as I can,” Young said. “I also want to come back and help (CHS girls’ soccer) Coach (Aaron) Mayes because I know that he is going to need support. I am hoping that he will allow me to come back and help him next year.”

Attending school and playing soccer at USC-Lancaster will allow Young to do both since the women’s soccer season in college is during the fall while the high school season in South Carolina takes place in the spring.

Whether or not Young can fit in helping Mayes with his program will be something which will be left to her expected busy schedule. But the fourth-year Lady Bulldog head coach sees someone familiar when he watches Young in practice or, play in matches.

“Cameron kind of reminds me a little of myself when I played soccer,” said Mayes, a former college player at Presbyterian College. “I played center back and she plays center back. She holds down the defense for us.”

Young’s style of play also fits in with that employed by the Lancers and head coach Alex Tarque, who liked what he saw when watching the Camden standout in action. When Young went to Lancaster to visit the campus and the coaches and the players, she was sold that this was the first of her two post-high school landing spots.

“The coach gave me a nice introduction to the academics there,” she said. “It will be a nice adjustment from high school before I enter a four-year university after my two years there.

“There are a lot of academic (advisors) there to help me.”

Young started playing soccer when she was five years old but only started thinking seriously of playing the sport beyond high school after having a conversation with Mayes last spring. “To be honest, I didn’t really think about it until last year when Coach Mayes said to me, ‘You have a real shot at playing after high school,’” she said. “After that, I started looking into my options and other things. Then, I got my first offer. I was pretty excited after that.”

Unlike some athletes who want to get the glory by being the player who does the scoring, Young said she is content playing as the last line of defense before the opposing team gets to the Camden goalkeeper. While, in certain situations, Mayes afforded Young the opportunity to play forward, she has always felt more at home along the back line where she can see the play develop and, when she gets control of the ball, can find teammates in the open field with a pass.

“For me,” she said, “it’s always fun when I do get to go up there and play but, my strong suit is defense. I like to be aggressive. It’s more beneficial to me. It’s easier for me to be in front of the goal because I can see what I’m doing.

 “When (Tarque) asked me where I wanted to play, I told him that I would play anywhere on defense because I have played outside back and center back most of my high school career. He said that he just lost a center back so there was a good possibility that I will be playing there.”

The aggressiveness, Mayes said, is something which Young developed over the course of her high school playing days. He laughed when recalling that, as a freshman and sophomore, Mayes would almost cry when she was knocked down in practice or, in a game.

As evidence of just how far she has come in that area was exemplified by one particular play in a match last season.

“I remember a game last year against Andrew Jackson when she went all the way across the field to track down a girl who was open,” said Mayes, who led the Lady Bulldogs to the Region 4-AAA championship in 2017. “The girl took a big touch and Cameron stepped in and went shoulder-to-shoulder; it was a fair challenge.

“You could hear the wind leave the AJ girl’s body. That coming from a girl who, when she got touched would be on the ground crying. It’s amazing to see the growth from when she was 14 or 15 to now.”

Mayes added that Young is a player who, as a senior, knows when to step in and when to step aside. When she does become vocal, he said, it is for good reason.

“The biggest thing with Cameron is that she is not going to say a whole lot but she’ll get vocal if our girls aren’t playing well and then, she’ll get on them,” Mayes said.

“Cameron leads by example. If we’re in a tough game and we’re looking for someone to step in and win the ball, if the ball is there, it doesn’t matter who is in her way, Cameron is the one who is going to get to it. She’s the one who makes plays like that.”

Young will bring those qualities to the Lancers’ program next fall. Before that, however, she will try and help lead Camden to another conference crown. She said she knows that when she does get on the pitch at USC-Lancaster, the game will change in all areas.

“It’s definitely going to be more rigorous” she said of the challenge awaiting her in college. “They told me that we’re going to have two practices a day and I’m used to having practice once a day. I know that they’re going to have us in the gym, a lot, out of season. The coach also told me that we’re going to start having indoor soccer.”

Having seen the steps which Cameron Young has made in her high school to make herself a better player and teammate, Aaron Mayes leaves no doubt in feeling that trend will continue at USC-Lancaster.

“She’s a hard worker who asks all the time how she can get better,” he said of Young. “Where she has gotten is a tribute to her work ethic. She has put in the time to improve her game.”

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