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Manny Campbell: Mountaineers basketball star inducted into Hall of Fame

Manny Campbell is one of Mohawk College’s most successful athletes of the last decade.

Playing as a point guard for the men’s basketball team from 2011-2013, he achieved some of the highest honours a basketball player could earn in the two years he spent with the team, including winning the national CCAA gold medal in 2012.

Basketball had been in Campbell’s life for years before he to Mohawk. His family had always enjoyed sports, including an uncle who was a basketball referee as Campbell was growing up.

Campbell began competing at a young age, representing his school and city.

“I played rep basketball for probably about seven years,” Campbell remembered. “My high school was pretty good at basketball, too. We went to OFSAA [Ontario Federation of School Athletic Association] a few times, and I think the highest we got was a bronze medal at OFSAA.”

Coming to Mohawk as a veteran, Campbell had no trouble fitting into the team and starting to build chemistry.

“One of the first things that ever happened was Aminu [Bello] messaged me on Facebook to say ‘Welcome to the team’,” Campbell remembered. “We were always pretty close as a team, we would get together after classes and on weekends or pub nights. Everybody got along.”

Coach Brian Jonker recognized the friendship the teammates had for one another, and knew it would positively affect how they played.

“There was a real togetherness in that group,” Jonker recalled. “They all hung out and they liked each other, and it started translating more and more into how we were doing in the game.”

Campbell’s 2011-2012 season didn’t get off the best start, with the team losing 96-68 to Humber College in early November. Despite the early setback Campbell and the Mountaineers remained confident.

“We started off kind of slow,” Campbell said. “It was just a matter of getting to know each other and figuring out our strengths and weaknesses. We started clicking at the right time, though, and we were confident going into the playoffs that it didn’t matter who we were going to play, we were going to take care of business.”

The Mountaineers lost only four more games for the rest of the season, and got their revenge against Humber by beating them 89-86 in a close provincial OCAA finals match.

Campbell won a CCAA gold medal, the 2013 CCAA All-Canadian award and Mohawk Athlete of the Year during his time at the college.

Campbell’s team went into the national CCAA championship as underdogs, facing off against both the fifth-seeded Vanier College and first-seeded University of Northern BC on their way to the finals.

“We knew that we had the pieces to make a good run,” Campbell said. “We were confident in each other, we knew we could do it.”

The Mountaineers’ confidence paid off as they won the final match against Mount Royal University 88-73, securing Mohawk’s first national gold medal in four decades.

“During our finals run, we had three games at Regionals and then three games at Nationals,” Campbell said.  “Nobody won player of the game consecutively. Some people got it more than once, but never consecutively. It was a team effort.”

Campbell’s team couldn’t repeat the success story in the following year, with several key players leaving the college after graduation, though Campbell still won both the CCAA All-Canadian award, which recognizes student-athletes who achieve an honours standing in academics combined with athletic success, and Mohawk’s Athlete of the Year award in 2013. 

“I wasn’t expecting it, even though I was happy to get it,” Campbell said. “I had wanted to win Nationals again so that one stung not to win, but I have no complaints about how everything went, even though we did lose.”

Campbell’s teammates applauded both his attitude and his skills while he was playing for the college

“Manny is a selfless floor leader and a great example of a team-first player,” Mountaineers co-captain Aminu Bello said. “He’s highly competitive and has a great feel for the game. He has a welcoming persona that galvanizes those around him to build chemistry with each and every person on the team. I’m glad to call Manny a teammate and life-long friend, and many of his teammates would share the same sentiment.”

Campbell was inducted into the Mountaineers’ Hall of Fame in 2023 both as a member of the 2012 CCAA championship team and as an individual player.

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