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Growing up, Sam Garvilla fell in love with soccer by watching her dad coach the sport for a college team.
“Soccer has always been a huge part of my life,” she said. “I love competing and being an athlete. From a young age, I knew I would do everything in my power to become a professional soccer player.”
Despite two ACL tears at ages 11 and 12, Darlington School in Rome, Ga., recruited Sam to play high school soccer – putting her on track to realize her dream.
She trained four to six hours a day at school and loved it, but her hopes of going pro came crashing down when she tore with ACL for a third time.
“Not once did I question whether or not I wanted to continue playing soccer,” Garvilla said. “It is my escape. It is my home away from home. I love every minute of every practice. After my third tear, I knew I would never to be able to reach the goals I set at a young age, but I was sure going to do everything in my power to continue playing and be the best player I could.”
In addition to her ACL tears, Sam had suffered 12 meniscus tears and underwent 10 surgeries. It was time for her to move back home.
That’s when she decided to make the switch to goalkeeper for Francis Howell High School.
“Making such a drastic change in position my junior year of high school set me back as far as recruitment,” she said. “But by the summer before my senior year, I began receiving some awesome offers from a wide range of schools – including a number of NCAA DI programs.”
In October of her senior year, plans changed when she found out she was six months pregnant with her son Braxton. “It was the last thing I expected to hear at my doctor’s appointment,” she said. “I was determined to raise my son. My parents and three brothers provided me a tremendous support group at home. I began looking at local schools immediately.”
Despite having no interest in a community college, Sam agreed to speak with SCC’s head coach to hear him out. “It was an easy decision to make after meeting him,” she said. “NCCA DI has always been my dream, and attending SCC still gives me the option to transfer to a DI school after my sophomore year.”
After SCC, Sam hopes to transfer to a four-year school to major in pre-law and minor in sports management. She has her eyes set on a career in the field of sports law.
“It has not been easy being a full-time student and college athlete, working two part-time jobs and being a mom,” she said. “Many people have shared their disapproval of my choice to play soccer and miss out on time with my son, but I play soccer for him. I want my son to be proud of me. I want him to know that I continued to pursue my dreams even when things didn’t go as planned. I want to lead by example and be an inspiration to him.”
“My son was not a set back,” she said. “He is my drive to be better, and he is a blessing.”