After stepping foot on the track during her middle school years, Buda native Camille Dickson never imagined competing at the collegiate level.
Following a successful four-year career at Hays High that included numerous accolades, Dickson, who now attends the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelpia, is making a name for herself as a sprinter and long jumper in the college ranks.
She now eyes the possibility of earning a spot in the NCAA track and field national championships, something Dickson said wouldn’t have been possible if she didn’t take a chance by going to school out of state.
“It was a great opportunity and I would’ve regretted it for the rest of my life if I had not taken it,” Dickson said. “I wanted to get out of my comfort zone and I did. I didn’t know one person there (in Pennsylvania). I love it so much.”
Dickson has always taken track and field seriously and has focused on competing against herself. There were even times in high school she would get sick before each meet due to her nerves and competitive spirit.
Despite the nerves, Dickson ran well in multiple events and earned a trip to the 2017 UIL state meet in the 100-meter dash.
“I’ve never gotten so nervous for any other sport, I think it was because I took it so seriously and I was so competitive,” Dickson mentioned. “I think I threw up before every single track meet in high school, like my freshman and sophomore years. Now I don’t get nervous, I get so excited for them.”
Before committing to run at Penn late in her senior year, Dickson was set to attend Texas A&M University.
She had received multiple letters of interest from lower-level colleges for track. Academics, however, was number one on her list and A&M fit the bill.
It wasn’t until she sent out multiple emails to several Ivy league schools in early 2017 that she received word from Penn that they had one spot left open if she wanted it. Dickson didn’t hesitate to take advantage of the opportunity.
“Looking back on it now, Penn is definitely the best decision I’ve ever made, just because I’ve grown so much and in such a different way that I wouldn’t have if I went to any other school,” said Dickson. “The challenges that track has given me and the opportunities that the school has given me academically and stuff. All the groups I’ve gotten to be a part of, it’s insane.”
Dickson, now a sophomore at Penn, competed in both indoor and outdoor track and field during her first two years.
Long Jump has been her focus since starting at Penn, but she still competes as a sprinter. Dickson competed in the 60-meter, 200-meter, 300-meter and 400-meter races, in addition to 4×100-meter team relays.
Following her freshman season in 2018, Dickson ranked sixth all-time at Penn in the 200-meter indoor (24.66 seconds), ninth all-time in the outdoor 200-meters (24.45), and sixth all-time in outdoor long jump (19-feet, 3.5-inches), according to Penn Athletics website.
She was also part of the 2018 Ivy League Outdoor Heptagonal Team Championship, as well as Hepagonal Indoor Team Championship. In the 4×100-meter relay, Dickson made second team All-Ivy League for Outdoor, while also holding third all-time record for Penn in the 4x100m relay (45.33 seconds).
Not only is Dickson making an impact on the track, but she is also involved in making an impact in the local community in Philadelphia. In addition to studying economics with a minor in urban real estate, Dickson is involved with Camp Kesem, an organization that puts on camps to support children with parents who are affected by cancer.
“It’s entirely student run and we fundraise all year to give them kind of like this free week of just time to be a kid,” Dickson said. “It’s so much fun, especially since the track team seems to rally together around it.”
With her junior season on the horizon, Dickson is focused on a few goals, including breaking both the indoor and outdoor Penn school record for long jump and qualifying for nationals. In 2019, Dickson missed the first round of nationals by .01-meter.
“Next year my goal is to make it to nationals in long jump,” Dickson said. “I was just right there (this season), and it made me hungrier to make it happen next year.”