The Collegian
Sunday, June 04, 2023

Freshman balances school, the tennis team, and 41k followers on Instagram

<p>Nearly 42,000 accounts follow Troy. Credit Instagram @caleb_troy. </p>

Nearly 42,000 accounts follow Troy. Credit Instagram @caleb_troy. 

“I got my first camera at 14, and it started from there.”

Freshman Caleb Troy stepped on campus with a tennis racket and tens of thousands of followers on his Instagram. An amateur photographer from a young age, Troy stumbled upon a camera and has since become a significant member of the creative community of photographers on Instagram by only 19.

Attending the University of Richmond on a partial-athletic scholarship, Troy spends up to 20 hours a week with the tennis team, not including competitions the team takes part in. Cyber-schooled from 8th grade, Troy spent a majority of the last 5 years traveling the country, playing tennis and taking photos of the various places he would visit while competing. It was University of Richmond’s academics and financial aid that prompted Troy to choose to become a Spider.

“My process was really driven by tennis, as to what schools I was being recruited by,” Troy said.

Having joined Instagram only a little over a year ago, the outlet’s large presence in Troy’s hometown of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, known as the Steel City Grammers, prompted him to start posting photos on the platform regularly. Last July, Instagram happened to follow Troy, and spotlighted him as an account to follow for two weeks straight on the app, jumpstarting his Instagram fame.

“It didn't take long before things escalated. It wasn't planned at all,” Troy said.

With his name now amongst a growing group of young talent on Instagram, companies began to contact Troy with requests to promote their products, including Daniel Wellington watches, tentree clothing, and 360Fly. Troy was allowed to keep the products sent to him for his own use and for his models. On top of these new products, Troy is paid for his photography, turning his creative outlet into a profitable hobby.

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“They want those people that are influential on social media to do the marketing for them,” Troy said.

Being a full time student-athlete, however, has stinted Troy’s ability to post regularly. And with Instagram’s latest “Purge”, deleting all spam and inactive accounts, Troy has lost followers during the school year. The loss is around 100 followers every two weeks after an initial loss of between 2,000 to 3,000 followers due to his lack of regular posts.

“With summer coming up, I’ll be able to post more and get back to photography,” Troy said.

As an athlete on campus, Troy's close friend, David Rhodes, find his photography talents to be less noticeable to those that haven't gotten to know him. Much of his time at school is spent on schoolwork, tennis, and YoungLife, with not much free time left to advertise his creative outlet to his friends.

"When you meet him, while he looks like an athlete, you'd never expect him to also be the guy who is famous on Instagram," Rhodes said.

With a growing presence on social media, Troy's roommate, Connor Willmott, jokes that he had a four-year plan to get on Troy's Instagram page while studying together on campus. The plan is one of many jokes aimed at Troy, known as "Caleb D-1 Athlete" to some of his friends.

"Now that he made a personal account as well, I don't think I'll end up on the big one any time soon," Willmott said.

Troy maintains that he would not be where he is today without getting out of his comfort zone. Despite his popularity on Instagram, Troy plans on expanding his creativity through clothing design and possibly owning his own small business in the future.

“From what I learned, the coolest experiences happen when you go out of your comfort zone,” Troy said.

Contact News Assistant Mariam Eatedali at

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