Cami Privett is a native of Bakersfield, California, and an alum of the University of California, Irvine. But, with multiple seasons as a member of the Houston Dash, she has started to convert from a California girl into a true Texan.
“I’m so sad to say it, but I’m a ‘y’all-er’. I told myself I would never say y’all, and here I am 6 years deep in Texas slang,” Cami told BGN. “As for hobbies, I have a Texas checklist that I’ve been working on. If you have heard the song ‘My Texas’ by Josh Abbott Band then you know exactly what’s on my checklist.”
Privett first joined the Houston Dash back in 2015 after paying a fee to try-out for the club, signing an amateur contract for the season. Following a stint with Kolbotn in Norway, she returned to Houston to sign a professional contract in 2016.
Naturally a midfielder, Privett found herself playing multiple positions for the Dash in her first few seasons with the club, including at right-back and central defense. “Playing multiple positions is extremely difficult for me,” Privett explained. “Some people say it comes naturally, but I have worked extremely hard on and off the field in order to understand all the different positions. Being a utility player has been amazing. If I can understand my role and the opposition’s role then I have the ability to be a step ahead of them.”
How important is that versatility for longevity as a player? Privett answered, “Versatility is always a solid asset. As a player, you want to have as many tools in your toolbox as possible. Things that make you stand out, and if you can adapt to all positions, then that can give you more opportunities to play on the field.”
Despite having that versatile start to her NWSL career and only being in her mid-20s, Privett decided to retire from professional soccer in 2018. “I retired because I was going through a phase where I was exhausted by soccer. Every player experiences times where they feel burnt out, and curious about their future,” she explained. “It was a point where I felt soccer was coming to an end and I wanted to venture out and see what my life has in store.”
But, she would make a return to the sport that she loves not too long after hanging up her boots. “I realized very shortly after that the real world is REAL hard. I still played soccer competitively for a semi-pro team in Houston,” Cami said. “I realized that soccer is such a big part of my life and I want to continue playing, but I should travel while doing it.”
“I got in contact with a team in Spain (Logrono), and the wheels just kept moving. Six months later, I found myself back with the Houston Dash. Ultimately, my love for the game is what brought me back. Soccer has been a huge constant in my life, and I find it to be my safe zone.”
Last July, when she returned to Texas, she was joining a Dash side with a new head coach in James Clarkson, the former head of the Houston Dynamo Academy. “The last two years have been extremely different under James. He has qualities I really enjoy in a coach,” she said. “He is the type of coach you could joke around with and have some banter, but at the same time, he keeps every player in check. I think this year specifically he has done well at getting everyone on the same page and creating a path for Houston Dash to be successful.”
Not only is she happy to be back with the Dash, but she’s also excited to be back in the city she loves. “Houston is an all-around amazing city. The food, nightlife, coffee shops, and youth soccer are just a few examples of things I do within Houston,” she said. “Houston is special because of how inclusive and prideful the team, organization, and city are. Houston Strong is something I have been able to wrap my head around, and I’m so proud to be affiliated with an amazing community.”
Despite her unique soccer journey, Cami is still only 27 years old. “It’s been wild, but I wouldn’t change anything. The thing is without the downs and disappoints I wouldn’t be as grateful for the wins,” she reflected. “This career has a lot of humility involved in it and as a player, you have to be able to grow beyond the humility. It builds not only great athletes but great people.”
“The most important lesson I’ve learned from my situation is that adversity is nothing but a learning opportunity. As long as you keep a positive mindset and most importantly a growth mentality then you will give yourself the opportunity to be successful in your craft.”
The next stop on her soccer adventure will be the NWSL Challenge Cup in Utah. Privett and the Dash kick off their tournament run against two-time defending champions North Carolina Courage on July 1st at 9 PM Central Time on CBS All-Access.
While she will represent the Texas club proudly in Utah this summer and is becoming more of a Texan by the day, there is one area that Cami Privett’s California allegiance won’t waver: the endless Whataburger vs. In-N-Out debate. “I’m shocked that Whataburger and In-N-Out is even a discussion,” she said. “On a scale of fast food burgers, I would give McDonald’s a 4, Whataburger a 4.5, and In-N-Out a 7. I like Texas but California’s got the burgers down.”