Covenant Day boys soccer coach Jeff Foltz has seen many sides of his standout senior Cameron Church’s personality. But one memory sheds the most light on how Church operates on and off the field.
After a seventh-grade tournament where Foltz was coaching a junior varsity team that included Church, the Lions stopped for dinner on the way home. During dinner, music came on and the wait staff began singing and broke off into impromptu conga lines. When Foltz next looked up, Church was right in the middle of the action.
“He was serious, he wasn’t trying to be funny or goofy,” Foltz said. “All of the sudden there he is and he’s like, ‘C’mon, get up here.’ Pretty soon most of the team is up there in a conga line dancing around.
“That’s just who he is with leadership. He’s very extraverted. There’s a deep side to him, but he’s kind of a public face. He’s not timid about getting up there and representing himself, his faith, his family and his school.”
Church has represented the Lions well for the last three years on the soccer field, as well. He’s earned all-conference selections in each of those seasons and helped guide the Lions to a 14-5-3 record – which included a 7-1 mark in the Metrolina Athletic Conference last season.
He scored 21 goals and added seven assists from the forward position he was playing for the first time after switching from center-midfield. But Church made a smooth transition with the position change, and earned N.C. Soccer Coaches’ Association All-Region 2 honors and was also named the Matthews-Mint Hill Weekly Player of the Year.
Those accomplishments were all in the cards for Church, though.
“In eighth grade I set goals for myself,” Church said. “I said in freshman year I wanted to be starting and I got to do that. Sophomore year I wanted to be all-conference and I was able to do that (as a) freshman, sophomore and last year. And I said I wanted to be all-state by my junior year.”
Church, now an all-state forward, is starting over again in a sense this year as he’s again switching positions this season.
“My role on the field is very different this year,” Church said. “I went from playing center-mid all of my life to forward last year to playing defense this year, so it’s the third straight year I’ll be playing a different position.
“I’d love to be playing forward, but I recognize it’s what I can do to plug the holes we lost from last year. We lost seven starters, but three of them were on the back.”
Foltz said that when he first approached Church, the senior was apprehensive about the position change but decided to go along with it for the betterment of the team.
“He questioned it a little bit and wanted clarification on why this will be positive for him and the team,” Foltz said. “He wants answers, but once he gets the answers he usually goes along with it.”
Foltz said that’s how Church treats most every situation: With a calm confidence that he can get the job done, but with a sense of purpose at the same time.
“There’s very little difference on and off the field with him,” Foltz said. “He’s visible around campus, he’s the student body president and he takes on all of the leadership roles. He’s in all of the tough classes, he’s in that minority that does everything and does everything well.
“He’s a participator and he’s not passive. He’s quick to assume any leadership role and I don’t want to say this in any negative light, but he’s the alpha male and the top dog. He does everything he does to the best of his abilities and that’s usually pretty good.”
Church is determined to have a good final send-off to his senior season regardless of where he lines up on the field. He’s been playing for Charlotte United Football since he was on their Under-9 team and this may be his last hurrah in games that count.
He said he may try to at least play club soccer or try to walk in wherever he ends up next season, but, as expected, he has high expectations for his college destination, as well.
Church has maintained at least a 4.7 GPA for each semester since his freshman year and is a member of the National Honor Society, National Latin Honor Society, the Beta Club, is treasurer of the Latin Club, a member of the French Club, the senior class president, a volunteer at the Matthews Free Medical Clinic and has the Congressional Award Gold Medal pending approval.
So, in short, Church has higher aspirations than just soccer. He lists North Carolina, William and Mary, Virginia and Rice University as leading candidates for colleges.
Whoever lands Church is getting an all-around good person, Foltz said, and he senses Church will be successful in whatever venture he pursues in life.
“I could see him being the CEO of a successful company,” Foltz said. “But I think he has so much to give and so much to offer that it may be a disservice if he wasn’t in a service-type role where he can utilize all of his strengths.”
In part, that’s why Foltz has moved Church to the Lions’ most glaring position of need in each of the past two seasons, and a reason he feels Church is ready to have a successful senior season.
Church said he was so goal-oriented in each of his previous three seasons and is happy that he accomplished all he set out to do. Now, with his senior year upon him, he’s looking to keep it going.
“I don’t know what my goal is for this year,” he said. “I guess it was to get here, to be a captain (and) to be a team leader. We’ve had great players come through here so there aren’t any records that I could break or anything.
“Hopefully I can just set an example for the younger guys that this is what you can work for and try to encourage them to go for what they want.”
Church’s impact on the Lions’ soccer team can’t be measured simply by his on-field accomplishments and off-field aspirations. There’s a lot more to him than just that, and he understands his influence on the Lions’ program may be a long-lasting one.
“More than soccer, I want (my teammates) to be able to look to me as a guy they can come to as a person and as a friend,” he said. “I know playing defense, it’s harder to rack up stats, but if I could get all-state again that is the most I could ask for soccer-wise.
“Really if the guys grow and I can be a part of it, that’s all I need to have a good year. If that happens, I’ll be happy and feel like I’ve accomplished something here.”