Well, I feel like I can make an impact. This game alone has taught me a lot, just this one game. I mean, after the game, I realized these seniors taught me something. Whitney Hand taught me how to be a leader on the court. Lyndsey taught me how to play with emotion. Jo taught me how to be tough, crash, rebound, want the ball. Jas taught me how to love defense. I just learned all these things from these seniors. I'm going to be a junior, but I'm going to show all my teammates that we can do this.
I'm going to take this role as being one of the leaders and try to bring us back here, bring us further. I think next year is going to be great. I can't wait.
– Sharane Campbell following OU's Sweet 16 loss to Tennessee, March 31, 2013
As the dust settled, she felt a tiny drop race down her cheek, erasing to a thin-lined streak in the newly-formed film of dirt on her face. Quickly a parade of tears followed before a familiar voice sternly encouraged, "It's OK. Get back on." With that, she wiped her eyes and smacked her jeans with both hands before rising to her feet. The beast gave a mocking glance from the other end of the pen, and while fearful, its 8-year-old rider was not intimidated. It was her duty to break the young colt.
"We lived in the country. It came to the point where we had a lot of animals," Sharane Campbell recalled. "We had cows at one point. We always had horses. We had pigs at one point. Me and my brother had pet goats, a duck at one point. We had chickens. Every now and then we had different types of something."
Looking back it's easy for Sooner women's basketball star to realize how her passions formed. Campbell's love of animals fostered at an early age and grew so strong that not even a stubborn horse could deter.
"It was scary. I guess it was a feeling of fear and excitement," Campbell said of her initial experience breaking horses, "but I saw my dad and my brother were always riding horses, so I thought I should do it.
Fans recognize Campbell as the fearless No. 24, a 5-foot-10, hard-nosed shooting guard whose game thrives in floor burns and free throw attempts. The quintessential Sooner.
"I first got on, my dad just said, ‘Try to stay on.' But he didn't just let me go. He put the lead rope on the horse and led the horse in a circle while I was on its back. I started to relax and then the next thing I know I'm flying in the air and I'm on the ground. I was crying and I didn't want to get back on but my dad told me to.
"Back then I couldn't say no to my dad."
Sharane took her lumps and continued to ride the horse that day. It was a principal illustration of the toughness that has defined her on the court. Fans recognize Campbell as the fearless No. 24, a 5-foot-10, hard-nosed shooting guard whose game thrives in floor burns and free throw attempts. The quintessential Sooner.
Off the court, she is a quintessential Oklahoman: quiet, humble, hard-working. Campbell is a junior, halfway through her track of pre-veterinary medicine. Following her studies at the University of Oklahoma, she will then go to vet school and continue a lifelong dream.
Sharane Campbell was the third daughter, and youngest child, born to Paul Sr. and Jackie Campbell. Her father drove 18-wheelers and mother worked in the school kitchens. Even with two older sisters, Sharane gravitated towards her father and brother, Paul Jr., who was the closest sibling to her in age.
"I was a daddy's girl. I wanted to go everywhere with my dad."
Time with Paul usually meant playing games in the front yard. A basketball court was fashioned out of a concrete slab and a goal was placed on the nearby light post. All in the Campbell Clan would be involved in games of H-O-R-S-E. Sometimes Sharane and her brother were matched against each other in games that went to 10 points. Sharane says Paul Sr. would still have to give Paul Jr. five points to balance the game.
To say Sharane developed a competitive edge would be putting it lightly. She did not take losing well.
"We would play for a chocolate bar or a dollar or something. And whenever I would lose, I would cry and run in the house. It was that kind of thing."
Organized sports formed the next step in her progression. Sharane played everything for which she had time. She played as the only girl on a baseball team in elementary school. She ran track. In high school, she was a standout volleyball player. She also learned trombone and marched for a in the band until her sophomore year.
But basketball took supremacy.
"It was probably like second or third grade when I started basketball. I started playing at the YMCA. My dad was out there with all my siblings."
Sharane advanced past her family and peers in basketball skills. She elevated to her middle school team as a sixth grader (seventh and eighth grades were in a separate school).
The first practice I went to, they were making all their shots and I'm just missing all my shots. I just started crying. I'm like, ‘I just want to go home. I don't want to play with them; they're too good.'
"They would practice in the morning before school and I would practice with them, and I would be late to elementary school. The coach from our middle school would drive me to elementary school."
Success in basketball opened a new window. Sharane joined an AAU club team and eventually landed with the Oklahoma Stars.
"It was really exciting because that was a whole different world for me. Because I always played in Midwest City. I probably traveled to Piedmont, Yukon, but was never just constantly traveling somewhere. So just traveling was really cool and being able to play against those other really good basketball players – I loved it because it just got me better.
"At first, I didn't thing I could hang at all. The first practice I went to, they were making all their shots and I'm just missing all my shots. I just started crying. I'm like, ‘I just want to go home. I don't want to play with them; they're too good.' Later on, it just came."
The Stars won two national championships and a host of other tournaments. Sharane and her teammates fashioned letterman-style jackets and affixed patches from their wins. The jacket remains in her apartment today.
Being an Oklahoma Sooner is not a four-year affair. It's an all-the-time thing. It builds a legacy that lasts forever – and that is the mantra Sherri Coale instills in her players from day one.
Being an Oklahoman makes that all the more special.
"It means a lot. There's not a lot you can actually say. It just means a lot being this close to home and being with such a good program. It's just a blessing to be so close to home. Everyone else is so far away, but I can just go home if I want to. I can come up here play basketball, go to school, and then after class, even if it's like 6 o'clock, I can go home. I've got the best of both worlds."
Sharane learned to ride horses, play basketball and live her dreams in Spencer, Oklahoma – a tiny town 12 miles east of Oklahoma City encompassing just over five square miles and inhabited by fewer the 4,000 residents. She's one of just three Oklahomans on the OU women's basketball roster and the only upperclassmen. As such, she's an inspiration for many local youths.
Being an Oklahoma Sooner is not a four-year affair. It's an all-the-time thing. It builds a legacy that lasts forever.
"My aunt gave me this 13-year-old girl's phone number who said she wanted to talk to me. So I called her one day and was like, ‘Hey this is Sharane' and she was like, ‘Oh my gosh!' That was really exciting to hear.
"She plays basketball and says her dream is to come here to OU. That was just exciting to know that someone from Oklahoma, that just makes it seem possible. To say, ‘Sharane, she's from around here,' and it means a lot just knowing I can inspire somebody."
Understanding where she comes from and what she represents is important to Campbell. When Sooner Sports TV broadcaster Bob Carpenter exclaims after a big play, Campbell knows the impact of her performance enthuses more than just her team on the court.
"Especially when they say, you know, Sharane – The Pride of Spencer, Oklahoma," Campbell chuckled. "Just saying the Pride of Star Spencer, or just getting my high school out there, or saying they're dancing in the streets of Spencer -- that's where I'm from and I just love hearing the town's name.
"You never hear it that much anymore. Now that I'm here, you can hear it constantly."
And it will be heard much more come November.
"It's special to be a part of this program and to represent Oklahomans, to wear ‘Oklahoma' on your uniform. We're a strong bunch."
A Special Presentation of SoonerSports.com // University of Oklahoma Intercollegiate Athletics
Written By: Jared Thompson // Video Producer: Tory Kukowski // Site Producer: Russell Houghtaling
Photography: OU Athletics, Ty Russell, and OU WBB teammate Aaryn Ellenberg