“The Cost to Play”
His bushy blond hair flows in the wind like a lion’s main, smiling as he always does, quick to a
laugh, 6 feet tall but skinny as a board. Eighteen-year-old Ramsey Cameron of Greenville, N.C.,
is not what most people would expect a college hockey player to look like, but looks have a
tendency to be misleading.
The freshman business major has played hockey most of his life after watching his older
brother Max get into the sport as young children, and knew he wanted to continue to play at a
higher level. Attending East Carolina University gave him the opportunity.
“I grew up here and have gone to ECU games and everything since I was young,” said
Cameron.
But making the team was only part of the challenge. The university makes contributions
to the team but since it’s a club team and not NCAA the contributions do not cover all cost, and
the players have to pay the remainder.
“If they make the team it’s a $400 charge for uniforms… It’s a onetime charge, they keep
their equipment when they leave,” explained ECU head hockey coach Mike Markham. “On top
of that they have $1400 dues, split up between two semesters… that’s every year.”
To pay for these fees Cameron worked at his mother’s summer camp and saved his
earnings, though his mother wouldn’t let him teach the children to play hockey.
His parents also contributed, but like most players the cost to represent their university
and play the sport he loves was mostly his own.
But today Cameron is not thinking about money spent, because today is game day.
The fall chill has set in but there is not a cloud in the sky today and the sun warms our
skin like an electric blanket as we laugh about our own misses and brag about accomplishments
on the ice.
Cameron hopes to have some more to brag about as him and the Pirates try to extend
their current winning streak to 11 games and improve to 13-1 on the season when they take on
the Loyola University Maryland Greyhounds tonight.
14 games into the season and Cameron has his game-day schedule locked in.
“Fridays on game-day I sleep in as much as I can,” said Cameron. “I woke up at 9:45, 10
o’clock.”
After getting some extra rest Cameron heads to class, normally consisting of English,
introduction to computers, and micro-economics, but today he caught a break and his English
class was canceled.
After class Cameron will try to unwind some.
“[I] try to relax some before the game, maybe see some buddies,” said Cameron.
After seeing some of his friends Cameron heads to Bladez on Ice where the game will be
played.
“I’ll get there around six probably, go get warmed up and everything,” said Cameron.
Talking about his pre-game routine brings up some nerves as Cameron is a little concerned about
the night’s game despite the Pirates’ current winning streak.
“It’s going to be one of those challenging games,” said Cameron. “We’ve conquered all
the rest of the teams that have been challenging though, so hopeful we do the same thing
tonight.”
Once Cameron, now in a full suit as is the rest of the team, is out of the warm sun and
into the frigid rink the smiling and laughing takes a pause and a serious look streaks across his
normally brightly lit face. Now the joy of companionship will be replaced by the passion of
competition.
“Jumping on the ice for the first time [on game day], I love that feeling” said Cameron.
Cameron looks more the part with his wild hair contained under his helmet and pads
adding extra girth under his purple ECU jersey as he takes to the ice for a warm up skate.
The cold rink and opening night for basketball don’t stop hundreds of fans from showing
up to support the Pirates. Energy continues to build in the cramped rink as spectators fight to
secure their own piece of ice side glass to watch the game.
A hushed calm of respect takes over the raucous bunch for a brief presentation for
military appreciation night, but then exploded with energy and excitement at the drop of the
opening faceoff.
The two teams battle scoreless for the first ten minutes of the game, finishing heavy
checks and trading long shots on goal, seeming more like two heavy weight boxers feeling each
other out before committing to the hard blows.
The deadlock brakes mid-way through the first period when ECU forward Bret Murch
taped in a rebound off his own long wrist shot. The Pirates take the momentum from the first
goal and carry it through the game, finishing with an 8-1 rout of the Greyhounds.
Cameron played three shifts in the game, which is his most ice time of the season so far,
but his only tally on the stat sheet was a two minute penalty he served for a “too many men on
the ice” call.
For Cameron, tonight and most games of the season are more for gaining experience and
becoming a better player than it is for padding his stats.
“This year is a learning year for them (Cameron and Holt Cody),” said Markham. “Next
year they’ll be able to contribute to the team.”
Cameron continues to build a bond with his teammates after the game as they relive the
contest while waiting on several others to finish changing out of their uniforms and pads.
“Yeah he got lucky,” jokes ECU team captain AJ Hamel about Mike Mason’s hat trick.
“He’s lucky Jeff Landau hooked him the whole time. He couldn’t burry those on his own.”
Once everybody has returned from the locker room, Cameron and the rest of team leave
the rink to unwind together at Carolina Ale House, showing support for one of their biggest
sponsors while continuing to grow and bond as a team.
Cameron has a lot to learn on the team before he sees any substantial playing time, but
for now the always smiling, lanky young man with enough hair for three people is enjoying the
opportunity to be a part of this team, to make friends, and gain experience from his coaches and
fellow players.