“Kelly Campbell bears the torch for the concept that the same formula that existed to succeed a hundred years ago, a thousand years ago, thirty years ago, still exists today.” DePaul University’s Coach Doug Bruno said. “You still have to roll up your sleeves; you have to set goals; you have to picture what you’re going to achieve before you achieve it—and that’s Kelly.”
The Blue Demons celebrated their BIG EAST Championship final victory in a downpour of confetti on March 9, 2020, after defeating Marquette University 88-74. Not only is Campbell tied for No. 2 in career assists at DePaul University with Veronica Ross at 672, passing Chanise Jenkins (670), but the senior co-captain was also selected to the BIG EAST All-Tournament Team after the victory in March. Campbell was nine assists away from becoming DePaul’s all-time leader as Brittany Hrynko finished her career with 680.
On a grander scale, she’s ranked sixth in assists within Division I women’s basketball for the 2019-20 season. Campbell’s giving character extends beyond the confines of the court and infiltrates to benefit the community.
The senior is a stellar example of DePaul’s commitment to the Vincentian mission seeking to empower students to promote the inherent dignity of all people, especially marginalized communities, by educating students to cultivate relationships rooted in service, faith and justice.
Last year, DePaul adopted a new initiative—a community service competition within athletics, aimed at strengthening the local community and camaraderie within teams. The women’s basketball team won in a landslide and the cup now sits beside Coach Doug Bruno’s desk. “We didn’t want the cup; we didn’t want to have the competition,” Bruno said, “because we believe true service isn’t advertised or celebrated.”
“And that’s Kelly Campbell. She doesn’t want people to know she’s doing service,” Bruno said.
Doug Bruno, photo courtesy of Caroline Kurdej
Campbell frequently sneaks off the Lincoln Park campus and disappears inside the St. Vincent de Paul Church food pantry to feed the homeless. Despite her attempt to slip under the radar, she was recognized as a semifinalist for the Coach Wooden Citizenship Cup—presented to distinguished athletes (high school, intercollegiate and professional) from any sport that best display character, teamwork and citizenship, attributes deemed central to utilizing athletes as a platform to transform society.
The award establishes excellence on and off the court, reflective of Campbell’s impactful work in the game, her academic achievements and dedication to community service. The Wall, New Jersey native spent a portion of a few of her summer breaks working at orphanages for abandoned and at-risk children in Guatemala and the Dominican Republic. When returning her second year, she led nine fellow Blue Demon student-athletes in the DR. Together, the team of volunteers played sports with special needs kids, planted, gardened and moved immense piles of dirt for unofficial lifting days and helped out in the kitchen.
Unselfish yet competitive, Campbell is frequently cited in DePaul’s training room, walking up to athletes from other sports. “How’s your knee doing?” she asks a cross country runner. Five minutes go by, and she’s updated with an injury report from her fellow Blue Demon. The runner forgets to ask how one of DePaul’s star basketball players is feeling.
Post-graduation, Campbell hopes to play overseas in Australia if possible. After playing, she plans on going to grad school to earn her masters and become a sports dietician for a college or professional sports team.
“Basketball has taught me how to work hard for what you want to achieve,” Campbell said. “Through hard work and dedication, you can really achieve anything you set your mind to.”
Campbell’s light continues to shine amidst the darkness set by the Covid-19 pandemic. Now more than ever, the Blue Demon basketball player humbly reminds us the importance of selflessness and dedicating time to help others.