By Danielle Morin
Science Hill Athletic Director Keith Turner chuckles when he says it’s nice having a young person as an assistant because he doesn’t have to call out for tech support anymore.
He’s referring to Camden Copenhaver, a 15-year-old sophomore at Science Hill who has been Turner’s right-hand man for the past nine years. Yes, you did the math correctly, at just 6 years of age, Camden began fulfilling the role of Assistant Athletic Director. While the rest of us were playing house or perfecting the art of shoe-tying, Camden was running scoreboards, prepping basketball courts on game day, helping the school secretary prepare event tickets, and making sure the sound equipment was up and running – to name just a few items on his long list of responsibilities.
Camden says between his three older siblings’ involvement in sports at Science Hill, sporting events were something he was accustomed to being around from a very early age. Between that and his personal interest in sports, he says he just sort of fell into the role, and that the experience has, “become more fun than I originally thought it would be.”
He says getting involved behind the scenes has not only allowed him a front row seat to the sports he already enjoyed but has also given him the opportunity to experience new sports he otherwise wouldn’t know much about. Whether it’s softball, basketball, football, soccer, track and cross country, volleyball, tennis, or even swimming, Camden says the role has allowed him to understand and appreciate sports from a new and unique perspective.
Keith Turner, who has been Science Hill’s Athletic Director since 2006, says that when he first met Camden, he stood out because he showed a genuine interest in being involved in sports – not just playing them, but being a part of all the other aspects most of us do not realize are happening off the court or field. And Camden wasn’t just interested; he had a knack for understanding how to fulfill the role. Turner says he noticed immediately that, “for a young kid, he did things the right way,” and he felt he just had to give him the opportunity.
Nine years later, he is glad he did, because without Camden, a lot of what goes on in the background of Science Hill athletics would not exist. When he’s not assisting with gameday operations, he’s maintaining social media sites with current photos and score updates, or he’s organizing press releases to highlight team accomplishments. Turner says, “[Camden] gives us the ability to showcase the kids and programs.”
And Camden’s involvement isn’t just for fun. He says the experiences and learning opportunities he’s received in the role extend far beyond the sports themselves, explaining that the trust Turner places in him has made him a “better person,” and that he’s so grateful for the continuing opportunities in leadership and what that might mean for his future. “It makes you feel good,” he says, “when an adult can trust you.”
Turner says that the growth he has seen in the young man has been impressive, to say the least, and since he took Camden under his wing, Turner has watched him develop into someone “dependable” and “mature beyond his years.”
“In the athletic world,” Turner points out, “you deal with a lot of different people and personalities,” and what has impressed him most with Camden’s growth is his ability to “deal with adults” while still being aware of his boundaries as a young high school student.
Graduation isn’t the end for Camden either. He says he plans to continue working in athletics even when his high school years at Science Hill are over, and he’s already begun assisting with some of ETSU’s sports teams. He says the opportunities that Turner has provided him have reinforced his interest in a career in athletic management, and he’s eager to see what the future will hold.
Turner has no doubts the young man will go far and continue to make an impact as he has for the school’s athletic division, saying, “The bottom line is he makes a difference. He’s such an outstanding young man. I can’t thank him enough.”