Owen's Camryn Bolick sets sights on next chapter of soccer career
Mixing it up with some of the top soccer talent in the region, in front of thousands of screaming soccer fans on the field of Asheville’s historic Memorial Stadium, hardly seems like the typical setting for a high school junior.
The 2018-19 Owen Female Athlete of the Year, however, is far from the average 16-year-old.
Camryn Bolick's accomplishments in the classroom alone are enough to set her apart from many of her high school peers. With a GPA of 4.6, the rising senior is set to graduate after the 2019 fall semester.
"My top priority has always been academics," said Bolick, who committed to play for the Catamounts of Western Carolina University, which she will begin attending in 2020. "I love soccer, but it's always come second to academics."
For those who have seen her play, that may seem hard to believe.
Bolick has been a standout on the Warlassies' roster since joining the squad a freshman in 2017, when she scored 18 goals and registered 4 assists in 21 games. As a sophomore, she was a critical piece of an Owen team that advanced to the third round of the state playoffs for the first time int he program's history.
In her final campaign for the Warlassies, Bolick's team-leading 25 goals helped Owen to a second consecutive undefeated season in the Western Highlands Conference, in which she was named the Player of the Year.
Her high school soccer career ended on May 15, when the Warlassies fell 1-0 to Hendersonville after appearing in the third round of the playoffs for the second straight year.
"She brings a high level of consistency to the game," Owen head coach David Fiest said of Bolick. "Her work ethic is phenomenal; she has a drive to not only push herself but she has a way of making players around her better."
That mature approach to the game has been turning heads since Bolick began playing recreation league soccer in Black Mountain as a young child. Among the many to take notice was Brevard native Lydia Vandenbergh, who played semi-professional soccer for the now-defunct Asheville Splash before her four-year career at Clemson University.
The Warren Wilson College women's soccer head coach has a professional soccer career that has spanned 14 years and included stops from Brazil to Chicago. She believes Bolick has "no ceiling" on the soccer field.
"As she grows, she's going to be a lot of fun to watch," said Vandenbergh, the first women's soccer player from WNC to play professionally. "I hope she has aspirations to play professionally because I think she could be the second player from this are to go pro, and that would make me proud. She's always been kind of my little prodigy, because I've seen what she can do since an early age."
While Bolick's talent on the field is apparent to even the casual soccer fan, her willingness to do whatever it takes to develop as a player is equally impressive. During her high school soccer career, she would regularly finish practice at Owen before doing her homework on the car ride to Greenville, South Carolina, where she would practice with the Carolina Elite Soccer Academy.
"The effort that she's put into soccer, while holding herself to such a high academic standard, has been amazing," Fiest said. "She has such a balanced competitive drive."
In fact, when Vandenbergh and a team of owners announced the return of women's semi-pro soccer in the form of the Asheville City Soccer Club in 2017, she thought Bolick could prove a valuable addition to the Blues' 2018 roster.
"We had earmarked some of the top young players in the area and she was definitely one of them," Vandenbergh said. "She can definitely hold her own and you would never know she was a high schooler. Right away it became apparent that she would be on our roster for the inaugural season."
Fiest was not surprised when he learned Bolick made the Asheville City roster.
"I thought she was capable of playing on that team and I was unbelievably excited that she was going to get an opportunity to play with players who are like her," he said. "I knew that her growth was going to skyrocket as soon as she got on that team."
Bolick was admittedly nervous when she set out to earn a spot on the Blues' roster.
"It was a little scary and at first I wasn't even sure if I wanted to try out," she said. "But I'm familiar with a lot of the coaches from playing around the Asheville area and they encouraged me to do it."
Playing and practicing with Women's Premier Soccer League talent has allowed Bolick to see the game from a different perspective.
"It's the type of soccer I hadn't really played or been around," she said. "The experience completely changed how I view and play the game."
It's hard to put Bolick's impact on the Warlassies soccer program into words, Fiest said, but in only three seasons she's established herself as one of the top soccer players to come out of the program.
"I've been here since 2009," Fiest said, "and she's easily among the top three players I've seen here."
Bolick's role with Asheville City, which was 4-2 through its first six matches this season, is expanding in her second year with the club, according to Vandenbergh.
"She really knows and understands the game at a higher level than most," she said. "We're thrilled to have her as a member of this team."