Devin Campbell, the captain of the Oswego State hockey team, is known as the backbone of the team on the ice, and a good student who is the first person to volunteer in the community off the ice.
Campbell always comes to the rink prepared to be one of the hardest workers, and because of it he not only betters himself but everyone else around him, said his teammate, Joshua Zizek.
“Throughout the week he’s the last guy to leave the rink because he’s in the gym working out while others are just looking forward to heading back to their houses,” Zizek said. “During both practices and games, he’s the backbone of our team. He’s the one that everyone looks up to, and has no problem calling the team out when we have to be better.”
Campbell transferred to Oswego during the 2016-17 season, became an assistant captain during the 2018-19 season, and spent his final season as a captain and role model for the team.
Growing up in Ottawa, Campbell started playing hockey when he was five years old. His parents wanted him to play more than just hockey, and let Campbell also play soccer, football and baseball when he was growing up. He almost focused all of his time on football instead of hockey.
“In Canada [hockey is] huge there,” Campbell said. “My dad had me on skates when I was four years old, it was just something to do. All of my friends were doing it and it made sense to start at that age.”
Jason Clarke, the head coach of Carleton Place Canadians, a junior hockey team, watched Campbell grow up and learn the value of working hard every day. Campbell was in the organization for four years starting when he was 14.
“Devin exemplifies why sports are so important to personal growth,” Clarke said. “Devin is such a well-rounded person who is ready for his next challenge.”
Clarke said he learned how to be a good teammate and deal with adversity.
“I’m very proud of Devin and his hockey accomplishments but am more proud of who he has become as a person,” Clarke said.
After leaving junior hockey, Campbell started his college career playing hockey at Niagara University. He said at first, they weren’t that strong of a team, but he got to play a lot on the team and gain experience. He was excited to start the second year, but then a bunch of coaching changes happened.
“Both the assistant coaches left the program,” Campbell said. “It was a bit of a mess. I went into the second year with high hopes, but it just wasn’t working.”
Campbell had never asked to switch teams, but after talking to his dad, who said if he’s not happy, he should look elsewhere, he did.
“[Coach Ed Gosek] was looking for a defenseman, and it just worked out,” Campbell said.
The transition wasn’t much of a talent gap, Campbell said, but he is held to a higher standard here than at Niagara.
“We are a winning team and they really want you to do your best, which isn’t like Niagara where you’re just hanging in there.”
Everyone on the team is tight-knit, and each player has 30 best friends. At other schools, players don’t get the same experiences as they do here, Campbell said.
“We spend every day together,” Campbell said. “Whether you like each other when you first show up here, you better start liking each other because you are together so much, and it doesn’t happen at a lot of places.”
Oswego has helped Campbell on the ice and off the ice. He said he appreciates everything the team does to raise awareness for Ovarian cancer, because his aunt passed away from it, as well as Gosek’s wife.
“I love that we do so much charity work and I wouldn’t have it any other way,” Campbell said.
Zizek said Campbell is the first person to volunteer when the team has opportunities to get out in the community and give back.
“Off the ice Devin plays a vast role in the community,” said Joshua Zizek. “He’s always spending time with our fans after games no matter the outcome, and because of it, I know there’s a lot of people who consider him one of their favorite players.”
Campbell was named SUNYAC defensive player of the year for the second year in a row.
“I’m not the flashiest player in the world, so I’m not going to win a scoring title,” Campbell said. “To win something for what you’re good at is always nice to get it.
After graduation, Campbell is hoping to play pro-hockey in Europe, to experience something different than going right into a fulltime job.
“I’m kind of an open book,” Campbell said. “I don’t have anything planned, I’m not picky about what I’ll do, I just want to find something I’m passionate about.”
Campbell, an accounting graduate student, wants to eventually get into the business world and stock market for his career.
“With the MBA program they do a little bit of everything,” Campbell said. “It’s nice to get such a spread with that.”
Zizek said Campbell is the definition of a great captain and is happy he had the pleasure of playing with him for the last two and a half years.
“Whether it be on the ice, where he pushes us to become better as individuals and as a team, or off the ice in the community where he spends his time getting to know the fans and giving back his time to them,” Zizek said. “Although his hockey career at Oswego is over, there’s no doubt that Devin Campbell will be talked about in Oswego for a long time to come.”