Dear Football: A Memoir by Cameryn Martin

Written by on January 19, 2024

Photo by Daniel DeRonde

With just 23 seconds left in the game and Muhlenberg up big, I stepped onto the field as a player for the final time. As the team ran a return to the right and with every step to my block, I started reflecting on my career. The ball was squibbed down to me and for a split second, I thought I should return it.

“My last play ever, why not?” was the thought that I had in my head. I then remembered a phrase that I had heard for the 14 years I played the sport:

“Do your job.”

My job was not to pick up the ball. My role was not to be a selfish player. I had another job to do. I carefully took my steps and made a pancake block (blocking a player to the ground). After the whistle blew, I ran off the field with tears flowing down my face. My teammates ran over to me in an attempt to console me.

Photo by Christian Benedetto

“Thank you for being the best teammate ever.”

“You’ve been through so much, but you gave it your all every day.”

In my college career, I played three separate positions: Wide receiver and tight end during my first three years, then defensive end in my final two (Covid-19 gave me an extra year of college football). The fear of not coming returning for year five crossed my mind when I tore my hamstring in 2022. This was my sixth hamstring injury in the calendar year, and I was afraid that I would do more harm than good. I already tweaked it during the indoor track season, and it was a huge factor on why I felt I had to prematurely end my track career.

I did not want to feel pain anymore with something I loved.

Fortunately for me, the time I spent away from sports in the spring allowed for some much needed rest. Upon returning, I committed to giving it everything I had- even when my coach told me that my playing time on the defensive line would not be much or even guaranteed. It did not matter to me.

Photo courtesy of Montclair State University Athletics


For that entire offseason, I worked my tail off to be bigger, stronger, and above all else, healthy.

That opening day of camp I went back to what I know best: working hard. I was not on any special teams unit, I was not even in the defensive line rotation- I was at the very bottom of the depth chart.

I never gave up. I put my blood, sweat and tears into year fourteen. I eventually completed the season on either the first or second team of every special teams unit. Most importantly, I also finished the season healthy. There were games in which I did not see a snap, but I was able to be a supportive teammate.

I am going to miss running around like a madman at practice. I am going to miss the battles with the offensive line at practice. I will miss running down on kickoff. I will miss chanting for the defense on every third down. I will miss the hyping up the crowd regardless of the score. I will miss being with my teammates before every practice and cracking jokes.

Photo by Daniel DeRonde

I will miss the team dinners at Sam’s. I will miss the post-game festivities with the guys. Above all else, I will miss putting on that helmet, tying those cleats, and strapping up those gloves with the same joy as I had as a kid. That enthusiasm I had playing will never be matched.

I was never the most talented, but no one ever outworked me. I leave this game with no regrets. I hope in my next chapter of this journey, I can give this game back to you. Thank you football for teaching me how to deal with adversity. Thank you for teaching me how to work as a team. Thank you for teaching me the importance of having a role. Thank you for being so fun for me.

By Cameryn Martin, Class of 2024

Featured image by Gabby Nordstrom