Cameryn Wilkinson will play soccer at the University of Hartford. Wilkinson is flanked by her mother, Jaime Wilkinson, and father, Adam Wilkinson.
Cameryn Wilkinson, a 2022 graduate of Wethersfield High School, will continue to live out her soccer dreams a few miles up the road.
“I’m very excited to announce my commitment to the University of Hartford to continue my academic career and play soccer at the collegiate level,” Wilkinson announced on social media. “Thank you to everyone who has helped me get to this point.”
It’s the natural next step for Wilkinson, who has had a soccer ball at her feet for nearly her entire life.
Her father, Adam Wilkinson, coached her in youth soccer and during the final few years of club soccer at the high school level. He also coached against his daughter over the past four years, serving as the head coach for the girls’ team at Newington High School since 2013.
Wilkinson called her dad her biggest influence and credited him with “shaping her into the player and person” she is today.
“He was a little harder on me with me being his daughter, but I feel like having him as a coach pushed me to continue my soccer overall,” Wilkinson said. “I could always ask him anything, whether I was playing or at home. I could always go to him for whatever.”
At the age of five she started playing youth soccer and didn’t initially love the sport, often opting to play goalie because she didn’t love running at the time. She originally wanted to focus on gymnastics, but her father encouraged her to continue with soccer.
Then in middle school, she had an “aha” moment while playing for her Connecticut Football Club (CFC) team. She recalled blowing by an opponent and beating the keeper for a goal.
“That's the first moment when I realized that I really loved soccer,” Wilkinson added. “My love for the sport expanded after that.”
Along with playing for CFC for 10 years and winning a summer league championship with her U17 team, she played all four years on the varsity team at WHS.
This past fall, she served as a team captain as the team won the Central Connecticut Conference division title, the team’s second in three seasons. Despite only playing in a handful of games because of a torn hamstring, Wilkinson was named all-conference and to the Connecticut High School Coaches Association (CHSCA) All-State team.
The all-state selection was a combination of the impact she made on the field when she was healthy and the leadership she provided off the field.
Wilkinson said she was surprised by the selection but was honored and thanked WHS head coach Tony Leone for allowing her to act as another coach from the sidelines.
She recalled a moment early in the season when a teammate came over to the sidelines and was unaware why she had been taken out of the game. Wilkinson approached her to offer a few pointers. The teammate looked at Wilkinson and said, “Wow, you really are your father’s daughter.”
Along with starring on the soccer fields, Wilkinson was a member of the Art National Honor Society at WHS. She said that creating, mainly drawing and painting, allows her to unwind from the hectic soccer schedule.
For Wilkinson, who was born and raised in Wethersfield, leaving the community will be tough.
“Everyone has always been so supportive,” added Wilkinson. “Those core people that I have been with since elementary school are who I will miss the most.”
Luckily she will only be about 10 miles from her home base, playing with the Hawks in West Hartford. John Natale, who is a Wethersfield native and previously coach at WHS, has been coaching the Hawks for two decades and is the winningest coach in program history. Jimmy Slayton, a 2016-WHS graduate, is also on the team’s staff.
“There was some kind of attraction to it that I can't explain. The coaching staff, the team, the campus, everything just kind of fit and seemed right,” said Wilkinson, who will study exercise science. “I always wanted to stay close to home because I felt like all of my support comes from my family, and I wanted them close by.”
Her first season at UHart should be a memorable one as the team has a trip planned to Costa Rica at the end of October to play a few games overseas.
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Sports Editor for the Rare Reminder, Glastonbury Citizen, and Rivereast News Bulletin