WINSTED – Freddie Camp knew the day belonged as much to the youthful, slender, woman with the sandy-brown hair standing off to the side. Maybe more. His immense athletic talent shares the stage with a deep soul and an appreciative heart. He knew. He has always known.
Northwestern Regional’s gifted three-sport athlete signed his national letter of intent to attend the University of Rhode Island on a football scholarship in front of a proud contingent of friends, teammates, coaches and administrators in the school’s media center Tuesday (Feb. 7)
Camp wore the smile of accomplishment and appreciation, a dream having come to fruition after a brilliant season that included more than 2,500 all-purpose yards and 33 touchdowns, the end zone found repeatedly in every manner possible – kickoff returns, punt returns, pick- 6s, rushing, passing, etc. All punctuated by All-State honors and one writer proclaiming him the best all-around player in the Naugatuck Valley League.
The magnitude of a college scholarship to play football, however, turned his thoughts to the woman on the side who in the bigger picture has never been on the side but front and center. His achieved goal of a scholarship was just part of a bigger goal.
“I wanted to do this for my mother. I didn’t want her to have to pay for college,” Camp said. “We aren’t poor and but we didn’t have some of the things maybe some other families had. And If I wanted something nice, my mother had to work extra hard to get it.”
Alexis Calder was the woman on the side, otherwise known as mom. All parts smiles, one part watery eyes, all parts proud.
Calder, a special education teacher for the Winchester school system, has been a single parent. She had Freddie at a young age and his dad is in North Carolina now. It has not been an easy road.
“It’s pretty much been (Freddie) and I,” Calder said. “Up until high school there was not much of a presence from dad but he is more involved now. It’s important for Freddie to have a relationship with his dad and he’s built that. But, I am so proud that he’s made it to this point despite not having the cookie-cutter child growing up experience
Freddie never asks me for anything and he sets an example for younger kids.”
Camp noticed the one-parent effort and never took it for granted.
“Ever since I was young I wanted to be involved in sports,” Camp said. “You get dreams of being an athlete. I did not want my mother to pay for college. I saw how hard my mother worked. She had a teen-age kid who needed to be places with no car and she drove me all around. One year I played baseball for the Burlington Bulldogs and it was expensive. She had no hesitation. Money was not a factor. I saw her take the time and money to get her Master’s Degree. I wanted her mind set.”
Calder has been a permanent fixture at Freddie’s games, missing no more than a handful of games through his career.
“I have seen him grow in all sports,” Calder said. “I really like watching him play baseball. It seems so effortless. You can see open plays and I’ve seen Freddie grow in him commitment to the team. I can see the wheels turning in his head. “
And there is no doubt what play in all sports sticks out in her mind. Sophomore year, state tournament. One of the most dominant pitchers in Connecticut scholastic history who would go on to be drafted No. 7 in the major league draft by the Kansas City Royals, East Catholic’s Frank Mozzicato on the mound.
“Seeing him hit the double off (Mozzicato) was pure joy, elation. It was one moment for everybody,” Calder said.
Calder will make the trips to Rhode Island to watch Freddie play defensive back. The drive will be longer, the love will be the same. Both will deal with the absence the next part of the journey creates.
“Mom is independent and that has rubbed off on me,” Camp said. “I love her.”
Freddie Camp knew his signing day was mom’s day too. It’s always been that way – His days are their days.