The Daily Gamecock

Alumnus Cam Mecca’s love for hockey intensified vision for Gamecock Hockey

<p>Cam Mecca graduated in May of 2022. Although he no longer leads the club team on the ice, he continues his hockey career in the NHL as an insider sales associate for the Carolina Hurricanes.&nbsp;</p>
Cam Mecca graduated in May of 2022. Although he no longer leads the club team on the ice, he continues his hockey career in the NHL as an insider sales associate for the Carolina Hurricanes. 

Raised in a hockey family from Rome, New York, Cam Mecca first put on a pair of skates at 3 years old.

“I hated it,” Cam Mecca, a May 2022 graduate who now makes a living as an inside sales associate for the Carolina Hurricanes, an NHL team, said.

Cam Mecca said he wasn’t fond of the idea of ice skating — or hockey, for that matter — but his mother pressed the issue.  

“By the time I was six, I was going to more of my brother’s hockey games,” Cam Mecca said. “My mom started bribing me because I really liked watching the Zamboni. She was like, ‘Alright, if you want to come to the game and see the Zamboni, you have to play (hockey) too.’”

That started Cam Mecca’s journey in hockey, something that continues today. Landing the job with the Hurricanes was partly the result of the work Cam Mecca did with Gamecock Hockey, a club hockey team on campus that Cam Mecca didn’t initially intend to join.

Despite his initial reluctance to skate and play hockey, Cam Mecca learned to the love the sport so much he played on two hockey teams simultaneously during his first two years in high school. 

“Many nights we were out in Syracuse getting back at 11 o’clock at night, he’s got school the next morning … He made it work,” said John Mecca, Cam’s father.

That’s because Cam Mecca was playing for a triple-A team in Syracuse, as well as his high school’s varsity team. 

“I was skating double-practices on Tuesdays and Thursdays,” Cam Mecca said. “Twice a week, after high school practices, I would go home, eat, then drive 45 minutes to Syracuse to practice for another hour-and-a-half, then drive back.”

It was a grueling schedule, but it led him to enroll at a prep school in Connecticut following his sophomore year of high school.

“He went (to prep school) to play hockey, to get significant playing time,” John Mecca said. “It didn’t really work out like that. And when you go to prep school, you have to repeat (a year of high school).”

Eventually, Mecca began to draw interest from Division-I and Division-III colleges, such as St. Lawrence, a small university in upstate New York. 

“He wanted to play in college,” John Mecca said. “He had a pretty high level of commitment. This is what he wanted to do.”

But Cam Mecca didn’t get offers from the schools he wanted to attend and play hockey for, so he played junior hockey for a year then he saw a new opportunity, one that might not include hockey.

“I had applied to South Carolina on a whim just because there was a kid from my hometown that I grew up playing hockey with,” Cam Mecca said. “He was there, so I just applied to USC.”

Going from Rome, New York, to Columbia, South Carolina, would be quite a culture shock for Cam Mecca, but he was looking forward to a change and a break from hockey.

“I was burnt out from it. The idea of stepping away was enticing,” Cam Mecca said.

That break didn’t last long. In fact, he was on campus only a few weeks before one of his friends convinced him to attend tryouts.

“At that first skate, I was like, ‘This is some of the worst hockey I’ve ever played,’” Cam Mecca said. “First day, I told myself I wasn’t going back. But my friends were also there … and I didn’t have anyone else to really hang out with.”

It didn’t take Cam Mecca long to become a leader for the team.

“He’s just a great guy all around — really cared about this program and his teammates,” Al Sirois, head coach of Gamecock Hockey, said. “When he spoke, (the players) really listened.”

Through a charity game against Clemson in 2019, Gamecock Hockey would see its first of many viral moments — this one being a brawl between the teams resulting from a hit levied against Cam Mecca.

“That whole incident, it got on Barstool, and got us attention from pretty much everywhere,” Dillon Clark, the voice of Gamecock Hockey from 2017 to 2021, said. “Things did get a bit busier after that because all the (social media pages) took off a lot. But that also doesn’t happen without putting out good content.”

The following year, talented hockey players wanted to be part of Gamecock Hockey. More than 50 players tried out for the team, which was more than double the number of people who tried out with Cam Mecca.  

Then Gamecock Hockey began to draw crowds. The team was talented, had a recognizable social media presence and the games were fun.

“(Cam and I) went to the football game against Vanderbilt, and we were about to leave, and somebody comes up to us and says, ‘Are you Cam Mecca?’” John Mecca said. “Where else can you go to a 60-something-thousand seat football stadium and get recognized for being on the club hockey team?”

The team was suddenly popular, in part because of Mecca's efforts.

“(Cam) will never admit it, and he’ll throw credit to others, as well, but he knows a lot of (Gamecock Hockey’s growth) has to do with him,” John Mecca said. 

Cam Mecca would eventually become the all-time points record holder for Gamecock Hockey with 84 points in 65 games.

“The class from four years ago really changed the culture,” Sirois said of the players who joined the team in 2018, including Cam Mecca.

Cam Mecca eventually found what he wanted to do professionally through a sales class he took during his senior year. That class, plus hockey.

“I was networking and connecting, and I saw the job for the Hurricanes,” Cam Mecca said. “That would work out perfect for what I want to do.”

Cam Mecca attended an online workshop with his future manager shortly after applying for the job and found himself interviewing for the position.

“I interviewed a week later, talked a lot about the hockey team and what I did with them,” Cam Mecca said. “Four days later, he offered me the job."

Now, Cam Mecca finds himself in the hockey world — just not as a player. 

Editor's note: This article was written for a journalism class prior to being published in The Daily Gamecock.


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