Cam Bennerman Driven To Help Others Succeed On And Off Court
Aug. 8, 2013
The number 13 is often a figure associated with bad luck or misfortune. Former Pack hoops star Cam Bennerman believes he can use it to encourage the acquisition of knowledge among our vulnerable young athletes that aspire to play professional sports.
Not only did Bennerman sport #13 on his jersey during his playing days at NC State, he's also employing the number to represent a much larger concept. "13%" is a group founded by Bennerman (to be launched within the next year), created to help the development of young athletes and their families make the most informed decisions in order to make their dreams a reality. Why call it "13%"?
"I believe 13 represents the percentage of people that actually care about the intricacies and things that it takes to be successful," Bennerman said. "Families are over-flooded with information from just about every outlet imaginable, and I want to be able to help athletes sort all of that out so that they can make the best decisions for themselves, their family, and their career."
Many talented Division I athletes go on to accomplish extraordinary feats, whether it's winning some sort of championship, or garnering an individual achievement. Bennerman has found a way to fuse his athletic ability with his sharp mind, utilizing both tools to instill in others all of the knowledge he has collected about basketball and life over the years.
"I've had my struggles and have made mistakes," Bennerman says. "I've learned to embrace them and now I'm all about helping others and I strive to facilitate the development of hard-working people. Those types of people are the ones deserved to be helped."
Bennerman played for NC State under former coach Herb Sendek from 2002-06, a period of prominence for the Pack in which it appeared in the NCAA tournament four straight times. During those four seasons, the players had expectations of winning ingrained into their minds. As Bennerman puts it, those teams "planned to win."
"We planned for success, and there isn't anything wrong about that," the former guard said. "We had a very specific purpose, and belief that we knew we would be ready to perform at the highest level no matter who we faced. Everything we did was very strategically executed."
Bennerman, known for his athleticism and swagger, led the team in scoring his senior year, averaging 14.1 points per game. Many Wolfpack fans will recall his thunderous dunk over Duke's Sheldon Williams:
"That play was too easy," Bennerman recalls emphatically. "I really wish I would have done something to acknowledge my father when it happened, cause I know he was pumped, and it would have been great to see his face."
Upon leaving NC State in 2006, Bennerman went overseas to play professionally in a number of different countries including Italy ('06-'07, 2010), Spain ('07-'09), Poland ('10-'11), Argentina ('11, '13), and Turkey ('12-'13). He was also briefly with the Phoenix Suns in 2007 and then the NBDL in 2009 where he played for the Anaheim Arsenal.
He memorably recalls his first stint in Italy as a key part in the development for his taste in fashion and art. The cultural experience in Italy is what drives his passion for paintings, sculptures, and reading all types of books to expand his knowledge of the world.
Bennerman took interest in a number of sports growing up (including soccer), but basketball was the one that really stuck because of the way the game is structured.
"To me, the fulfillment of making a play on the basketball court is unlike any other feeling, it's just different than any other sport," he says.
Bennerman's focus to be great in basketball transfers over to all other facets of his life.
"The experiences I had with my teammates with basketball can be applied to life in general, with the camaraderie you have in the locker room and dealing with different personalities, Bennerman says. "Learning to take criticism, and seeing it in a positive light, and coming into a situation and really growing from it are all attributed to my time at State."
At first, life in college was definitely an adjustment for Bennerman.
"Being on State's campus as a freshman, it was like running around like a chicken with your head cut off," he joked. "The biggest concern you had on a daily basis was getting your sweats and tee on and get out the door to class. It's just so crazy to me how much I developed in just two years. I really learned to just chill by the time I was a junior."
Outside of basketball Bennerman, has his hands in a number of different projects. He founded another company called "LiKuid Nation", which was inspired by water and formlessness. When Bennerman came home from playing professionally in Spain in 2008, he discovered his friends doing cool things in art, video, music, and fashion in North Carolina, and he felt driven to develop a brand/company that represented their creativity.
In 2010, the company made waves in The Source Magazine with an advertisement displaying a creative shirt fittingly titled the "War On Oil".
Bennerman also puts a lot of effort into another activity that he takes great pride in: completing his college degree. He needs just a few more classes before he becomes a graduate of North Carolina State University.
"I really wanted to go back and get my degree to prove it to myself and my family that I could do it," he says. "I'll be able to hold onto that piece of paper forever."
Bennerman is also the creative director of "The Dropouts", which is a brand launched under the LiKuid Nation umbrella that encourages all to follow their hearts and passion. Bennerman makes it clear that the company absolutely "does not promote or encourage the dropping out of school, job, or any situation whatsoever", and that it's more about "letting go of everyone's expectations and following your own path, and making informed decisions."
Bennerman has always lived this way and describes himself as "a sharp edge", an individual that has soaked up knowledge over the years, and is clearly well-informed on a number of subjects.
It's actually quite fascinating to hear him discuss the key people that have had a direct and positive impact on his life, including a few of his former teammates.
"I really looked up to Scooter Sherrill and Cliff Crawford when I played at State," he says. "I saw their struggles while developing into young leaders, and they really helped in my maturation process as a player and a man."
As Bennerman further ponders those who have shaped him into the man that he is today, he pauses to quiet his barking Beagle named "Kobe".
His next response illustrates why NC State is one of college basketball's more unique basketball programs. It has become a common theme for younger alums to reach out to those guys who played before them, and it's no different for Bennerman.
"I spoke with Rodney Monroe a few months ago, and have always stayed in touch with him," he said. "I also really value the input of David Thompson, who I speak with every so often."
Bennerman credits a lot of his success to the principles that were drilled into his brain while playing at NC State.
"A lot of people don't ever see or realize the amount of time and effort it takes to become successful," Bennerman says. "Our rigorous routines set by our coaches day in and day out really prepared me for the grind after college."
Bennerman is currently living in Raleigh, N.C., where he works out at the Dail Center every morning with a number of former Wolfpack hoopers, and he can't help but smile when he talks about it.
"You just never know what person you're going to run into there on a daily basis," he says. "It's really inspiring to come back here and continue to be a part of this community."
Bennerman is training hard as he preps for another season overseas. He has yet to sign a contract anywhere, but continues to be focused on another successful year. One of the more important decisions he makes each morning is deciding what shoes to wear to a workout--he owns more than 150 pairs basketball shoes. Bennerman takes pride in his collection, mentioning that each shoe is very unique; whether it was a pair he wore in a game at State, or the pair that Michael Jordan gave to him. Each shoe has a special story to be told. Bennerman is really just itching to get back onto the court.
"I'm really just focused on basketball at this point and finishing out my career strong," he said.
By: Tyler Bolton-Fuhrman, CoachGott.com