Frederick “Fred” Cambell is a former football player at New Rochelle High School and Stanford University. He is currently working on Ph.D. in statistics at Rice University.
Fred and his mother Mary Campbell
Terrance Jackson: You were born in Fairbanks, Alaska, how did your family end up in New Rochelle, NY?
Fred Campbell: Through work, my dad was working for GE, and ending up moving to Connecticut. We were living at Oakland at the time, so we moved from Oakland to New Rochelle.
New Rochelle High School
TJ: At New Rochelle High School you maintained a 3.7 grade point average, and scored 1410 out of 1600 on the SAT. How difficult was it to balance academics and athletics?
FC: It was tough. You have to put in a lot of work. College is the same way. You kind of get used to focusing and using the time you have well. It was difficult, but I liked football, so I enjoyed putting all the time into that. And school was important to me, so I made sure that I put the time into that.
Ray Rice at New Rochelle High School versus North Rockland High School
TJ: In your junior year of high school, you played with Ray Rice and Courtney Greene, and the team won the state championship. What was that like?
FC: It was great. That was our dream, right. We had been working towards that for a while. We got knocked out of the playoffs the year before. It was something that we appreciated a bunch. Especially after going back the next year, and not winning it. You realize how special and how fleeting it was to win. It was cool. Both of them are really talented, so it was fun to play with them.
Quarterback Greg Paulus of Christian Brothers Academy celebrates with teammates after the Brothers won the 2004 Class AA state football championship at the Carrier Dome.
TJ: The next year, your senior year, the team lost the state championship game. Any regrets about that game?
FC: Yeah, the game was so closed. I look back and a handful of play that if I had done better, we probably would of won, but I’m sure that everyone says that.
It was a good game in that the level of play was really high. There were so many talented players that played well on both sides of the ball. I think as far as the quality of football, it was probably the highest quality of football that we’ve played at that point.
TJ: Coach Lou, said that there were nine Division 1 players on the field at the time.
FC: Yeah, which was unusual for us, we usually didn’t play teams that talented.
Las Vegas, NV, (l. to r.) C. J. Miles, Courtney Greene, and Ray Rice.
TJ: Do you keep in touch with Ray Rice and your other high school teammates?
FC: Yeah, some of them, I talk to them, I wouldn’t say regularly but every once in a while.
Ray Rice in Super Bowl XLVII
TJ: What are your thoughts on Ray Rice playing in the NFL again?
FC: If he wants to do it, I love to see him get a chance.
Fred Campbell (51) at Stanford
TJ: You attended Stanford University and played under Coach Jim Harbaugh. What can you tell us about that experience?
FC: It was good. He’s a high-energy person. He brought a lot success to the program. I think he stresses competition and those are all things that I really enjoyed, and grew up with in the New Rochelle High School program. I thought it was a good fit.
Stanford vs. San Jose State
TJ: At Stanford, playing in game against San Jose State, you split your C-1 vertebra in the first half, and continued to play the second half of the game. How painful was it playing the second half and what are your current thoughts about athletes playing through the pain?
FC: It was painful. I knew something was wrong but I didn’t know what was wrong. I think, I got lucky, honestly. We were up pretty big and so in the second half, I didn’t have to do much but drop back with the coverage. And they really didn’t throw the ball my way. It could have been a lot worse.
It’s a lesson for me that you shouldn’t always play through the pain. You should figure out what is going on so that you don’t make stupid decisions. In football, to a degree you have to play through the pain, but at the same time understand the difference between pain and injury. And what can do real damage to you and what you can kind of deal with.
TJ: Your mother, Mary Campbell, was a cultural anthropologist with a doctorate degree from Stanford. She died just months into your freshman year at Stanford. What else would like people to know about your mother?
FC: Oh wow! She was amazing. She was kind and cared about people. Her work reflected that. The way that she raised us, reflected that. It was a huge lost for us. I wish that more people got to know her. I wish that we got to know her for longer.
TJ: Your mother was half Inupiat Eskimo, half African-American, and you helped dig her grave in the frozen ground of her native Alaska. How significant to you was that ritual and have you participated in any other Native Alaskan traditions?
FC: For other traditions, I’ve had moose before; I’ve had whale blubber, seal blood, all these things, kind of traditional Alaska native food. As far as the significance, I think that was the only way that I could imagine of saying goodbye. As far as the grieving process is concerned that was an important step for me as least.
(l. to r.) Marvin Campbell, Fred Campbell, Paul Robeson Campbell, and Malcolm Campbell
TJ: Is your mother a motivating factor in you obtaining a Ph.D. at Rice University?
FC: Absolutely, I think of her often. It’s certainly not easy, there’s a lot work, there’s a lot stress that comes with research. The research is so open-ended and you don’t know where you going all the time. I think about her and how she stressed education and how important it was. Her values kind of shine through in my attempt to get the Ph.D.
TJ: Can you tell us in laymen’s terms about the subject matter of your current academic pursuits?
FC: I’m getting a Ph.D. in statistics. A lot of what we do is to develop new statistical methodology for new and complex kinds of data. A lot of the work that we do is with the people at the Baylor College of Medicine. I am working the neuroimaging group that uses various technologies to image the brain in an effort to understand how it works. They get a lot of data from these imaging technologies and it’s our job to help them interpret it, build new methods, help the scientists use the data to gain insights about how the brain is working.
TJ: How soon will we be calling you Dr. Campbell?
FC: Hopefully pretty soon, I’m shooting for December.
Chris Rock, Richard Pryor, and Mahatma Gandhi
TJ: According to a Stanford website, the three people in history that you admire most are: Ghandi, Richard Pryor, and Chris Rock. Is that still the case?
FC: Those are all good people. I might have a different list at this point, but I certainly like Chris Rock and Richard Pryor.