In January, Camille Principe (Lake Harmony, Pa.) will enter her final semester at Penn State Hazleton. When you first hear that it may not sound like a major moment in Penn State history, but Camille's departure will signal the end of an era for the Principe family and Penn State Hazleton soccer.
Camille was just a sophomore at Jim Thorpe Area High School when Penn State Hazleton entered her life. Both of her older brothers, Michael, and Steven were considering attending the campus after being recruited to play soccer under then head coach Jesse Shadle. In the fall of 2014 Michael would transfer to the campus after a brief stint at William Patterson University in New Jersey along with his brother Steven who had just graduated high school. The brothers' experience on campus with the academic opportunities available and their ability to continue their athletic careers would play a big role down the road for the Principe family. In 2016, sister Meghann would join the ranks of the newly assembled women's soccer program and a year later, Camille would follow.
"That was a special year (2017-18) for us because all four of us were attending the campus at the same time," Camille stated. "It was just like old times (before high school) because we were all going to school together and playing soccer together. Even though it made for some cramped car rides, it was so much fun!"
Four Principe's on one campus may seem unique, but to their credit, each one proved to be immensely talented student-athletes. From 2016-2019 over the span of four seasons, a Principe played in the Penn State University Athletic Conference finals for men's or women's soccer. They also took home just about every academic award possible. Camille is no exception. As a member of the women's soccer team, she helped lead one of the best defenses in the PSUAC, allowing just 1.33 goals per game during the 2019 season that saw the Hazleton women's soccer team reach its second consecutive finale. Off the field, Camille has secured three PSUAC Academic Awards and two USCAA National All-Academic Team honors, with 2020-21 expected to be no different.
Off the field and outside the classroom, Camille continued the family legacy and become a prominent member of the Hazleton's THON organization. "I didn't know much about THON in high school but I saw lots of pictures and videos from my brothers and sisters and I knew I wanted to be a part of that", said Camille. "A family friend of ours passed away from leukemia at just 13 years old so it was very personal for us to get involved and fight for kids battling cancer."
Camille worked hard for the organization and in February of 2020 she earned a spot as one of Hazleton's dancers at Dance Marathon. Fortuitously, Camille would get the opportunity to experience THON from the ground floor with a pair of familiar faces, her friend Christine Turse and sister Meghann Principe, marking the first time a pair of siblings have danced for Hazleton.
"It was such an amazing experience to be on the floor and our THON family was incredible all weekend," remarked Camille. "It could not have been more special than it was to share that experience together because the cause is so important to us."
Camille has had a rewarding and very unique experience at Hazleton. A true family experience that has brought her and her siblings even closer together, but throughout it all she has always remained committed to carving out her own legacy.
She looked forward to her final year on the soccer team in 2020-21. A chance to take on a bigger leadership role with a team that graduated eight seniors from the 2019 season, but the pandemic has different plans for all of us. While she still hopes for the opportunity to lace up the cleats one more time in the spring, she's pleased with her performance on the pitch over the past three seasons and knows that her biggest successes are yet to come.
"It was challenging at times to be the youngest. I was always trying achieve the same level of success as my siblings but at the same time I had to be my own person," said Camille. "I elected to enter a different field of study and ultimately I want to make an impact in the field of mental health."
Camille will be graduating with a degree in Letters, Arts and Sciences in the spring of 2021, spending much of her academic career studying in the areas of Rehabilitation and Humans Services, Psychology and Sociology. She is eyeing a several grad schools to continue her education after Penn State including the University of Pittsburgh, Wisconsin, San Diego State and Michigan which have some of the best programs in the country for Rehabilitation and Counseling.
When the fall of 2021 rolls around Camille will be off to graduate school and hopefully both our society and higher education will be returning to a much more normal setting. But regardless of that return to normal, things at Hazleton just won't be quite the same. For the first time since 2014, there will not be a Principe on the campus nor will there be a Principe on either of the soccer programs they helped elevate to a championship level for the past seven years. As the Principe story at Hazleton comes to its natural conclusion, Camille will leave behind a campus grateful for more than half a decade of their success and contributions, knowing that the best is yet to come.