It’s not every day you meet a girl named “Pete.” It’s also not every day someone with Albany ties plays on the biggest stage in the world. But that is where she is and her story is somewhat similar to the famous Jamaican bobsled team that wanted to compete in the Olympics.
Sashana “Pete” Campbell, 28, a former Darton College star, is a midfielder/winger with team Jamaica who is now in Paris, France playing in the World Cup. Her team will be playing against Italy at noon Friday on FOX.
That is something that was unheard of because just a few years ago Jamaica did not even have women’s soccer team because there was no money. But thanks to the sister of the famous reggae singer Bob Marley, Jamaica now has a team and was the first Caribbean nation to qualify for the 2019 World Cup last year.
The Jamaican team is dubbed the “Reggae Girls” because of their love for music and the help received by Bob Marley’s sister Cedella Marley.
“She helped us get funding and helped us find some amazing coaches,” said “Pete.” “She heard about the struggles of the soccer team in 2008 and she has stuck with us since then.”
Campbell came to Albany from Jamaica after high school when her local coach met with then-Darton College head coach Ken Veilands.
“Coach Ken was important in getting me to Albany,” Campbell said. “He helped me get all the paperwork completed when I was finishing high school.”
Veilands remembers it well. “I recruited her via her high school coach in Jamaica, Merron Gordon. He convinced me that she was a special player as well as a wonderful person” Veliands said. “He was right in both cases. Pete epitomizes what you want as a Student Athlete. I had a sign in my office called the ‘Champions Creed: Love the Game, Love your Team, Love Yourself.’ She has all those qualities.”
When Campbell got to Darton State and the city of Albany, she took her team to the junior college championship in 2011 and was named an All-American.She led the nation in scoring with 36 goals and 18 assists. After two years in Albany Pete moved on to the University of West Florida where she helped lead her team to the national championship game twice — and winning it the second time.
After her college days were completed, Campbell took her skills to Iceland to play professionally and just prior to her journey to the World Cup she was playing professionally in Israel. Now she is playing with team Jamaica and trying to absorb every second of this experience.
“It is just an amazing feeling walking out onto the field,” Campbell said. “I know it is something each of us here have dreamed of. Just being here is amazing and when you hear that national anthem played you just a chill,” she said.
Campbell had words of encouragement for young athletes who want to see themselves playing on the big stage.
“Never stop working, never stop going toward your goal,” she said. “You will face a lot of obstacles and people that will tell you that you can’t do it, but just keep working and don’t reach for the sky, go past it.”
“I’ve had an amazing 28 years playing soccer,” Pete said. “And I am going to play as long as I can.”
It is also a special time for Coach Veilands. “For me, knowing that I was a part of her soccer journey is a especially rewarding,” he said. “Several former Darton players over the years have played on youth national teams and played professionally. So to have someone actually get to play on the biggest stage in the world, well let’s just say it brings back fond memories of coaching at Darton State and in the community,” he continued. “Sashana may not know it, but she is representing more than her country; she is representing all who got to play, coach and be a part of her amazing journey!”
But why do they call her Pete? Apparently, when Sashana was born and her family brought her home from the hospital, her mother asked her older brother what she should be called and he said “Pete.” 28 years later Pete is representing her nation and Albany on the world’s biggest stage.