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ATHLETE OF THE YEAR: North Hall's Damon Campbell taking lessons learned on the wrestling mat into future at Air Force
Damon Campbell
North Hall High senior Damon Campbell, right, is pictured with former US Representative Doug Collins during its awards night on Wednesday. Photo by Bill Murphy

Athlete of the Year 2021

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Damon Campbell is all set to put in the hard work needed to set himself up for success the rest of his life. 

It starts next month with basic training when he leaves his lifelong home to attend the Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, Colorado. 

Then it’s going to be a constant grind as he adjusts to military life and a future career in the aviation industry. 

It became official Wednesday night as Campbell received his letter of appointment from former US Representative Doug Collins during North Hall’s awards night. 

“He said, ‘in four years, I’ll be able to join him as an officer,’” Campbell said. 

However, the athletic legacy that Campbell leaves with the Trojans is just as tangible. As a senior, Campbell was the Class 3A state champion wrestler at 145 pounds and also served as the team captain for the North Hall boys soccer team. 

For his efforts, Campbell was tabbed Wednesday as The Times’ Athlete of the Year, which came with a ceremony at the new Emory Orthopedics, adjacent to the Atlanta Falcons’ team headquarters in Flowery Branch. 

At Air Force, Campbell is in contact with the coach about continuing his wrestling career, which saw him go 35-3 as a senior in 2021. 

However, his priority is adjusting to life nearly 2,000 miles from home and getting comfortable in the cockpit of a plane. 

Campbell is now in the early stages of taking flying instruction at a business in Winder, so he has a working knowledge of some things when he gets into training. 

Slowly, he said he’s become more comfortable and not so overwhelmed by all the different levers and controls on the dash of the plane. 

The reality for Campbell now is so much different than he would have imagined just one year ago, when he didn’t even know if he would go to college. 

However, the well-groomed North Hall senior took advice from family, friends and coaches to see what was out there and apply to the Service Academies. 

Immediately, Campbell gravitated to the idea of giving back to our country through service. 

He said learning those lessons of hard work and determination came from what he learned in the wrestling room and in intense matches where he was out there on his own. 

Campbell said stepping out of his comfort zone has him excited and apprehensive about the future all the at the same time. 

“Wrestling builds your moral character and humbles you,” Campbell said. 

He said the same effort poured into becoming successful in athletics will be devoted to becoming the best military officer and future pilot he can become. 

“I’m really excited about the journey I’m about to start,” Campbell said. 

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