Cam Miliken walked off the mat for the final match of his wrestling career. The recent regionals would prove to be the conclusion of that aspect of his life and the emotion on his face said it all. He loved the sport.
But for Miliken, the days after were the hardest.
“It was an emotional few days following the immediate close to my career. Castleton gave me a fresh start and a second opportunity to wrestle, so it hit me hard when it ended,” Miliken said.
That fresh start came after his transfer from Oneonta State College after his freshmen season and the opportunity to be a part of a program’s inaugural season.
“At the end of the day, I’m grateful to have been able to come to Castleton and help establish the wrestling program,” said Miliken with a smile. “I’ll miss being around all the guys all the time, over the past three seasons I’ve made some friends for life,” Miliken said.
But with Miliken’s career coming to a close, something really funny and almost out of nowhere came into his life.
He was walking in the hallway in Glenbrook Gymnasium with an Albany Academy lacrosse sweatshirt on, where he played almost five years ago, and struck up a conversation with Castleton’s lacrosse coach.
“We started chatting and I went to a practice to see what it’s all about and really enjoyed it,” Miliken said. “It reminded me how much I missed being outside running around playing a sport.”
Connor Rider, a freshmen member of the lacrosse team, was taken back at first by Miliken’s presence.
“My initial thought of Cam was “Who is this guy?” Rider said with a chuckle.
“I quickly learned that Cam is a super laid back, nice guy. He has been a great teammate and he is always quietly doing his business and doing all the right things,” Rider said.
Rider feels that Miliken has quickly found his role and come into the fold within the team.
“He takes faceoffs after goals or at the start of games and quarters. His strength from wrestling is a huge boost for that position,” Rider said.
But with the excitement has come some struggles getting back into the game.
“I was a little nervous taking my first faceoff. That was apparent after I got burned on my first attempt, but I found my footing again pretty quickly. Luckily I’ve been getting more comfortable with each minute I’ve played.”
Castleton lacrosse team members are hopeful for a successful season and Miliken is a believer, despite a slow start.
“We have a very talented team. Our record doesn’t reflect what we are capable of, but I feel we can flip the script in the next few weeks. It’s the first time in the Little East Conference and it reminds me a lot of the energy the wrestling team brought in its inaugural season,” he said.
Miliken doesn’t expect to play lacrosse next year as he pursues a master’s degree in accounting at Castleton, but he looks to stay around sports in other ways.
“I would love to help out Castleton athletics in any way I can whether it’s with lacrosse or wrestling. They’ve both have made a lasting impact in my life and I would love to stay involved,” he said.
Wrestling Coach Scott Legacy believes if Miliken stays around, Castleton athletics should be thankful.
“Castleton will be very lucky for him to stay involved with athletics in one form or another,” said Legacy with a smile.