There are several key positions on a soccer pitch – one of them is definitely center back and that’s where you will find James Cameron. The standout senior captain gives Pioneer a dominant player in the middle of the field and a leg up on the competition heading into Tuesday’s District semifinals.
So, let’s start there – at center back and Tuesday’s semifinals.
The Pioneers face SEC Red Division champion Saline with the winner taking on the winner of Skyline-Dexter in the championship game. The Hornets beat the Pioneers 1-0 earlier in the season and the teams tied in their second game at Pioneer.
“I have a ton of respect for our District,” says Cameron. “Saline, Dexter and Skyline – it is just filled with amazing programs.”
OK, now that the respect is out of the way …
“I also have a ton of confidence in my team,” Cameron continues. “I know what we are capable of. In order to come out on top, we simply need to keep a humble attitude. We have so much talent on our team and that makes it easy to become overconfident. If we just stay focused, humble and work hard we will be successful.”
Pioneer is the defending District champion, knocking off both heavyweights – Saline and Skyline – last season. They return a veteran lineup with a very composed and measured young man as one of the team captains.
And while he shares the name of a famous director, Pioneer’s Cameron doesn’t set any “Titanic” goals for himself out on the pitch.
“I am not the type to set monumental goals,” Cameron says. “The most important personal goals for me are simply being the best captain and the best teammate I can be. If I can do that, we just take each game one at a time to do big things.”
Cameron says the season has “definitely been a roller coaster.”
“It started off with tons of uncertainty due to the pandemic,” he says. “Since then, we have had two really tough losses as well as a lot of wins. Our main focus as of now is our District tournament.”
Pioneer has experience and confidence on its side after last season’s District title. And they will use that to their advantage this year.
“Last year was a dream,” Cameron says. “It was an amazing experience with many takeaways. It primarily showed us what hard work and the right attitude can do. Those lessons and the general experience of playing in those stressful games will definitely help us this year.”
Cameron admits this season was difficult to get excited about because of the uncertainty. He says that doubt really affected the team.
“It was hard for us to keep focus and a drive when our games were getting canceled week after week,” he says. “Once we were given the green light though, we quickly overcame this. We are not too bothered by the various COVID procedures (masks, health checks, distancing, etc.). We are just happy to be out there on the field.
“Honestly, the most impactful missing part is the absence of fans. Last year, we ended the season with an amazing fan base and it is simply hard to play without them this year.”
The talented Pioneers had a strong regular season. It was a team built to win this season but one that also has an impressive past and strong future.
“We are a senior-dominated group and we’ve been playing together for many years now,” Cameron said. “Additionally, the juniors and sophomores of the team are an extremely fun and talented group to play with. As a whole, we are a super tightly knit team. It’s just a super, fun group of guys to be around.”
James, the son of Jane Gordon and Mark Cameron, also excels in the classroom with a 3.94 GPA. He says school has been “interesting” this year.
“I can’t say I love being on zoom calls,” he admits. “They are very long and are hard to stay focused. Although it is not an ideal educational setting, I have been doing well in my classes so with that I can say things are going well.”
Cameron started playing soccer way back in kindergarten for a Rec and Ed team. He played for a few years and then transitioned to club soccer in third grade. He currently plays for the Michigan Tigers.
“What brought me into the sport was the satisfaction of a goal,” he says. “It was (and still is) a feeling that is unmatched by any other sport.
“Playing for the Michigan Tigers has been a blessing to say the least. It has developed my play and my character in many ways. It has taken me to tournaments across the country as well as experiences across the globe. It is a team and club I will always be appreciative of.”
Cameron says his soccer playing days could be coming to an end. He is going to college based on academic interests but will never lose the love of the game.
And he’s hoping he has a few more games to play.