Stanford’s Cameron Brink Continues to Find Joy in Basketball While Giving Back

On top of collegiate athletics, she has cultivated impressive brand deals and created her own basketball camp for girls in her native Oregon.
On the left, Cameron Brink dribbles a basketball during a Stanford game. On the right, Cameron Brink poses in her black Stanford jersey with her arms crossed.

Cameron Brink.

College athletics are a full-time job. Between a full course load, team meetings and dinners, lifting and practicing, committing to a four-year athletic career is no joke. Stanford University women’s basketball player Cameron Brink knows this to be true, but wouldn’t have it any other way.

As the daughter of two college basketball players, Brink resisted her destiny for as long as she could. “I used to be the biggest girly girl,” she says. Where basketball was concerned, she initially wasn’t interested. Despite her parents’ collegiate careers and her close family friendship with the Curry’s—and the trio of current and former NBA basketball players in Dell, Stephen and Seth—she “definitely wanted to be the black sheep.”

But her determination couldn’t resist the force of familial legacy for long. Or, as Brink puts it, “I believe everything happens for a reason, and the stars align.” After moving back from a three-year stint in the Netherlands, where she lived due to her parents’ jobs at Nike, she caught the attention of a basketball coach. Her parents’ height and basketball past proved Brink’s potential, and she acquiesced.

Initially, she took to and “stayed in the sport” for the friendships it brought. “That’s what I want to remind girls of: You can make such great friendships and learn such great skills” through the game, she says.

But it was her talent that gave her a future in basketball. After seventh grade, she attended a Stanford basketball camp. At the end, they offered her a scholarship to play on the women’s team, and the rest is history. “That’s when I started to take it seriously,” she explains.

These days, despite the nonstop nature of a college athletic career, Brink describes herself as “lucky” to maintain a love for the game. While so many “lose sight of why they started playing in the first place,” she has “done so well because I still have kept my love for the game,” she says.

Her family has been integral to that continued appreciation. Along with her coaches, they have “done a great job of helping me see the game in a positive light [and] not take it too seriously,” she says. It’s all about “surrounding yourself with good people and finding the joy in what you’re doing.”

A day in her life

“Even in the season, we still have fun,” Brink assures. But in between the weekend dinners and activities with the team, she works hard. Most days, she wakes up early and heads to breakfast with her teammates. Then she lifts, stretches, heads to class and returns to the gym. She and her teammates watch a lot of film alongside their typical practice on the court. Her day always ends with a team dinner and an early night.

On game days, the routine stays much the same. Rather than lifting, though, she hits the court for a shoot around and defensive strategizing, as well as mobility training and stretching to prepare for the competition. After games, the team takes the time to enjoy a meal together. “That’s something to look forward to as well [on game days],” she says. “We [usually] Door Dash Gott’s Roadside—it’s the best burger place.”

The significance of her New Balance deal

In August of this year, Brink became the first women’s basketball player to sign with

New Balance

. It was not merely a historical moment, though; it was personal and “full circle” for Brink. “My mom’s first pair of basketball shoes were New Balance,” she says of the significance. “They were 650s.”

A few months in, she’s still “processing” the honor. “There’s almost this imposter syndrome,” she explains. “I can't believe I’m the first women’s basketball player [to sign with the brand], because there are so many other great women’s basketball players out there.”

She may not have wrapped her head around the deal quite yet, but she has certainly started taking advantage of its perks. “My family, we’re sneakerheads, so it’s been amazing.” Her favorite New Balance sneaker is the 550, a low top version of her mom’s first pair. “You can’t go wrong with these,” she says as she reaches down and holds a white pair of sneakers up to the camera.

College athletics under NIL

Since the legislation was passed in July of 2021, much of the dialogue around NIL has been around its novelty. Two years in, players and coaches are still trying to adjust to the new terrain and understand all of its implications. Playing a sport while in college is already a “full-time job,” a reality which NIL has compounded.

Having your own brand has become another aspect of collegiate athletics that players have to consider and spend time cultivating. “It has been amazing and I’m so thankful for it, but it’s definitely still hard to navigate sometimes,” Brink says. But “I have a village of people that help me.”

Though it adds another layer to her already busy schedule, she believes it’s a “really great opportunity to monetize off of your name and make some money in college,” and encourages her fellow athletes to take advantage of it.

In addition to the numerous brand deals that she has garnered throughout her college career, Brink says the new NIL policy has brought a lot of growth. Though “still very much a kid at heart,” she has learned a lot “about money that I never would have known until after college,” she remarks. “I’m thankful for it, and I’m definitely a much more well-rounded person because of it.”

Her basketball camp, Next22

Her personal obligations aside, much of Brink’s focus recently—and over the past couple of years—has been on her basketball camp, Next22. One of her earliest coaches in the game was her mom, who “always harped on me this idea of keeping girls in sports,” she explains. With that as a guiding principle, Brink created her Next22 to benefit fifth through eighth grade girls in Oregon.

“My main message was that you don’t have to become a pro, you don’t have to be the best—it’s not all about that,” she says. “It’s about making connections. It’s about leadership skills. It’s about connecting within your community. And the biggest thing for me is [fostering] self-confidence and self-esteem—because that’s what sports do for girls.”

Brink has hosted the camp for two consecutive years now. Though created with the intention of hosting 22 girls, this year’s group was almost double that. There were 41 girls invited “because there are too many good girls,” she says.

“I just love doing it,” she says. “[Little kids] are the future. So I think it’s really important to invest.”

Key moments of growth

Brink’s college basketball career began during somewhat of a low point in college athletics across the board. She packed her bags and headed to Stanford in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. Though she ended up winning a national championship alongside her team in 2021, there were several points in the lead up when her teammates felt “we can’t do this,” she says.

Understandably, the rules and restrictions were serious and left the girls feeling “isolated.” But, the silver lining came with post-season play and a championship ring. “At the end of the year, winning a national championship—that triumph—was worth it all.” And, in the years since, the experience has helped her “put [other challenges] into perspective.”

Cameron Brink following Stanford’s 2021 national championship win.

Brink recognizes that the time was challenging for everybody, for a variety of reasons, and is glad that there has been a return to some normalcy in recent months.

Role models

When it comes to her inspirations, her parents, of course, are top of the list. The pair both played at Virginia Tech and know a thing or two about college athletics. “They know what they’re talking about and they’re just the best support system,” Brink says.

Aside from family members, she looks up to her trainer in Oregon, Susan King Borchardt, a former Stanford basketball player who Brink began working with as a freshman in high school. It was in working with Borchardt that she began to “find confidence” in herself. “The way I moved, the way I played, my attitude—everything changed,” she says.

While Brink appreciates her for her “elite” training and “feel[s] so lucky to be able to work with her,” she also appreciates the familial bond she’s developed with Borchardt. They live five minutes from each other in Oregon and Brink considers her “a second mom,” she says. “It’s a very special connection [and], I’m super thankful for it.”

The legacy she wants to leave

Brink is currently experiencing a universal senior emotion: disbelief at how quickly her four years at Stanford have passed.

While she “doesn’t want to leave,” her impending departure (this spring or next if she chooses to take her fifth year) has impressed upon her the sort of legacy that she hopes to leave at her school—and in the game of basketball, more generally. Ultimately, for her, “it’s all about the little girls,” she says. “It’s about being a strong female role model for younger girls because I’ve had so many, and they’ve had such a profound impact on my life.”

The motivations for focusing on the younger generation—much like her motivations for starting Next22—stem from her own experience. “I remember being 12 years old at Stanford’s camp and being so unsure of myself and so insecure in my height, how skinny I was, the way I looked,” she explains. She recognizes that younger girls might be experiencing similar emotions and wants to help them push past it.

When she was 12, it was all about finding a “North star,” players like “Jayne Appel, Chiney and Nneka Ogwumike,” who inspired a “feeling of awe” in her and proved to her that she could do it, too.

Moreover, she hopes to inspire honest conversations about mental health throughout women’s basketball communities. “I’ve been really open about mental health,” and helping others to know “that it’s fine to struggle,” she says. “One of my superpowers is being vulnerable. I’m an open book. That’s what I try to tell people: If you have something that’s bothering you, just say it. Open up to people.”

Future aspirations

Looking ahead, Brink hopes to continue hosting her camp, working with brands and pursuing modeling and fashion opportunities. But her biggest goal is obvious.

“Every little girl wants to grow up and play in the WNBA,” Brink says, including her. She knows that’s where her ambitions lie, but she’s yet unsure if she will pursue it this coming spring or put it off to take her fifth year at Stanford.

That may be her “next big life decision,” but right now her focus lies in Stanford, Calif. With the start of the season mere weeks away, Brink is locked in. “Obviously, we focus on this season and we win,” she says. “I’m looking forward to that.”

What is your go-to pump up song?

“‘Enter Sandman’ by Metallica.

What is a beauty product you can’t live without?

“I’m such a makeup girl. That's so hard. I would probably say my Hourglass mascara. It's so good.”

What is a book that changed your perspective? 

“We’re reading it right now as a team. The Energy Bus by John Gordon.”

What is a quote you live by?

“It’s [written] on my wall. ‘Life is difficult, but you are loved.’ It’s from the book The Boy, the Mole, the Fox and the Horse.”

Which TV show have you binge watched recently?

GLOW. It stands for ‘gorgeous ladies of wrestling.’ It’s so funny.”

Favorite snack?

“Unhealthy snack is Takis. Other than that, I love Goldfish—not really healthy, either.”

One thing on your bucket list you are determined to check off?


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Martha Zaytoun


Martha Zaytoun is a Lifestyle & Trending News writer for SI Swimsuit. Before joining the team, Martha worked on the editorial board of the University of Notre Dame’s student magazine and on the editorial team at Chapel Hill, Durham and Chatham Magazines in North Carolina. When not working, Martha loves to watercolor and oil paint, run or water ski. She is a graduate of the University of Notre Dame and a huge Fighting Irish fan.