If there is one person that pushes sophomore Red Hawk athlete Cameryn Martin to be the best version of himself each and every day, it is his mother.
“My mother has always been my biggest motivation,” Martin said. “Throughout my entire life, she’s had pain, but just seeing her fight the way that she did, no matter what, like in high school she would [still] drive me and my brother to morning practice and go to work.”
Martin’s mother suffered from a condition called lupus, an autoimmune disease that attacks the body’s tissues and organs. Unfortunately, she passed away from the disease earlier this year.
“Just seeing her sacrifices [for us] and everything that she did just motivated me,” Martin said. “If she’s doing this while she’s in pain and keeps going, it’s like, ‘what can I do?’”
If Martin’s athletic career is any indication, he has certainly made his mother proud. Even while she was battling lupus throughout his high school years, Martin continued to excel athletically. Competing in both football and track for Kingsway High School in Woolwich Township, New Jersey, Martin was a standout performer for both teams.
Martin was a tight end on the Dragons football team that made it to the state sectional championship during his senior year. He reached an even larger level of success with track and field. He finished his high school career as a two-time county champion in the 110 and 400-meter hurdles and a multi-time all-conference selection in both events. He was also a state qualifier in the 110-meter high hurdles during his senior year of high school.
He credits a large amount of his athletic success to his mother.
“My mom was my foundation of happiness,” Martin said. “She meant the world to me and her support was loved by me and my siblings. Having her [around,] especially knowing that she was sick, made me all the more appreciative.”
Martin ended up taking his talents to the next level and committed to Montclair State University to run track and play football.
Football is something Martin has always loved growing up. As for track and field, it was a sport that eventually grew on him after wanting to quit in high school.
“My brother and sister ran track in high school, and I wanted to do what they did,” Martin said. “Throughout high school, I almost didn’t want to run track anymore because I was already doing football, but because of everything that was going on in my life, I still wanted to be teammates with my brother.”
The decision to stick with track certainly paid off for Martin, whose love for the sport has grown over the years. He mentioned that the competitiveness of track and field has led him to fall in love with the sport.
While he may have won more awards and recognition hurdling than catching passes on the football field, Martin’s love for football is still there and it is a big reason why he wanted to further his career in the sport.
“I’ve always said that I wanted to be a college football player,” Martin said. “I’ve played football all my life, and the excitement of all the guys riding together and the teamwork aspect [excites me]. It just motivates me and I love it every day.”
Martin has carried this dedication and persistent attitude on the field as well. These attributes may very well lead to more playing time on the field this season as a sophomore. While Martin did not receive much playing time last year, he did spend last season learning from some of the veteran receivers on the team.
“Being able to take in and learn everything that the upperclassmen taught me, such as Carsen Johnson, Kason Campbell, Daunte Flecther and Mario Manzo-Lewis, really helped me grow as a receiver,” Martin said.
Martin has changed since high school, now standing at 6 feet, 3 inches tall and weighing in at 213 pounds, which aids him in his position. He believes that his size may be his biggest strength as a receiver.
“If you looked at me, you wouldn’t think I would weigh 200 pounds,” Martin said. “A lot of it is muscle. For me to go across the field and take a hit and get back up, or for me to be able to go and block a cornerback and spring a long run for a touchdown, that’s something I’d like to attribute to my size.”
On the other hand, one would think a track athlete, particularly a runner or hurdler, would like to be on the lighter side. His height gives him a massive advantage, but being slightly lighter could potentially help him run faster times for track and field. However, Martin’s biggest strength on the football field is just that: his larger frame, although it is a dilemma that Martin has struggled with.
“This is something that’s always been an issue for me in the world of track and field,” Martin said. “No matter what I did, I was always racing someone who was lighter than me. I would compete well with them, but I always wondered, if I was to cut weight a little bit, I would [be] much more explosive in a [track and field] sense.”
The weight did not hold Martin back from having an outstanding freshman campaign, as he was once again a standout performer in the hurdles. He qualified for regionals in his first-ever indoor track and field competition, turning in a regional qualifying time of 8.49 seconds in the 60-meter hurdles. He had multiple top five and top 10 finishes that season and even placed seventh at the New Jersey Athletic Conference (NJAC) indoor track and field championship meet.
Throughout all of this success, one meet that Martin has not forgotten about is the All-Atlantic Region Track and Field Conference (AARTFC) Championship. This is the regional championship meet that requires a qualifying time.
After qualifying for the 60-meter hurdle finals with a time of 8.52 seconds, Martin finished eighth in the finals with a time of 8.73 seconds, short of his personal best and his goal of winning regionals.
Martin was hard on himself after his performance at regionals. However, teammates such as junior sprinter Roshaun Wilson and senior sprinter/jumper Tim Goss helped to motivate him and get him focused on the future.
“During regionals, I wasn’t there mentally and [Wilson and Goss] were there to re-scale me back,” Martin said. “When it came down to it, I didn’t do what I had to do for finals, but those guys sat me down after and told me that I was going to be successful here, but [I just had] to get mentally right and be able to compete.”
Goss went on to elaborate about the conversation he had with Martin that day.
“We basically told [Martin] to focus on what he can improve on and not to focus on his performance,” Goss said. “He knows his diet and routine around that time were very off and it affected his race. We [also] told him he’s only a freshman and has plenty of time left to excel.”
His performance at regionals, along with the passing of his mother, has given Martin plenty of motivation heading into the football and track seasons. He will have an even shorter turnaround due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic pushing both seasons to the spring.
“[One] motivation that I have is to prove people that did not believe in me wrong,” Martin said. “I feel like I have more of a chip on my shoulder and I just want to compete.”
The most important thing to Martin is honoring his mother’s legacy on the football and on the track; he plans on doing that in a unique way.
“To honor my mom, I planned on wearing an arm sleeve that was a gift from the track team, in all competitions, as well as a clip for my spikes,” Martin said. “She will always be a part of me and my success.”