Tags: Feature Sports Story, Sports
Sam received a round of applause from her mom, Sue, and dad, Scott, along with the rest of the crowd at a recent Bay basketball game. Mike Ramczyk. (click for larger version)
January 29, 2013 | 05:45 PMWILLIAMS BAY — At the age of 5, Sam Storms went outside, in New Jersey, to play catch with her dad.
Sam wore a New York Yankees hat and a white dress.
"It was so weird, me and her mother were laughing," said Sam's dad, Scott. "She decided it was time to play ball."
The Storms family moved to Lake Geneva in 2003, and Sam immediately fell in love with softball. By the age of 7, she started playing and joined a traveling team by age 9. A field rat ever since, the 17-year-old Williams Bay senior stars for the Bay and, thanks to elite travel teams, camps and private lessons, has learned from some of the best softball players in the country.
Recently, her dedication paid off. Sam signed her national letter of intent and will receive a scholarship to play Division 1 college softball with Saint Peter's University in New Jersey, located just across the Hudson River from New York City.
The youngest of four kids, Sports is in her blood. Her oldest brother wrestled in college, another brother played college basketball and her youngest brother, Alec, played baseball at Badger High School. Sam's dad excelled at baseball and even made it to the minor leagues.
A competitor by nature, it was her mother that pushed her to play softball.
The Regional News recently met with Sam at the Storms houseto discuss her her future.
RN: Why did you choose Saint Peter's?
SS: They flew me out there. There's only 3,000 kids, and it's a commuter school. On the weekends, it's just the athletes, and it's a tight-knit group. The teacher-student ratio is 12-1, and it's a really good school. And it's only 12 minutes from New York City. It's right on the Hudson River, and you can see the skyline. The girls were so welcoming, and the coach is turning the program around. I want to be part of an up-and-coming program and set some records. It's like a home away from home. My brother Chris and my uncle live out there.
RN: Who else did you consider?
SS: I turned down (D1) Fairleigh-Dickinson, which also is in New Jersey.
RN: Why commit now?
SS: I wanted to weigh my options and not rush into anything. So many kids commit when they're freshmen or sophomores nowadays.
RN: When did you start playing softball?
SS: I was 7 years old. My mom was the driving force. I started softball when we moved to the Midwest. My brother and I played whiffle ball or pickle in the front yard. I went to a travel team in Kenosha when I was 9. My mom found the Kenosha Cyclones, a travel team. We won state two years in a row.
RN: Why do you love softball?
SS: It came easy to me. I was a catcher at first. And I played left field when I wasn't catching. Catching was so much fun. I always hit high in the lineup. I like to make a girl look bad with an ugly swing after a good pitch. And the feeling when you hit a home run is the most amazing feeling. Or a diving catch. It's awesome.
RN: When did you become serious about the sport?
SS: When I first started. I fell in love with softball. I just wanted to keep playing. I went to Olympian Michelle Smith's camp in Florida three years in a row when I was 10, 11 and 12.
RN: When did you start pitching?
SS: We needed a pitcher on the Cyclones. I was 10. It just stuck. My dad and I would pitch behind the house. At first, every other pitch would be over his head. I've broke my dad's toe a couple of times with bad pitches. But he wouldn't trade it for anything in the world.
RN: What are your pitches?
SS: I have a fastball, drop ball, screwball, rise ball, curveball and changeup. My drop ball is my most effective pitch. You have to transfer all your weight on your front foot and get on top of the ball for a drop ball. I use it a lot.
RN: How much different is high school softball compared to the traveling team?
SS: It's so different. On the traveling team, everyone is so good. So when I got to high school, I wanted to win, not just have fun. I'm a very competitive person. I'm always driven to succeed. Travel ball is so much faster. The girls have more refined skills. There is more raw talent on high school teams.
RN: Do you like your Lady Bulldogs teammates? How is the chemistry?
SS: I'm really good friends with them, and I love them. They absorb things if I ever try to teach them. I'm so used to being with my hitting coach, who is a four-time college All-American. High school has allowed me to get more pitching time. You're not allowed to play travel ball during high school season.
RN: How did you meet your hitting coach?
SS: I met her at a camp at Northwestern University. I've gone for six years now. It's lessons every week, and it's awesome. I would advise anybody to do it. I've learned so much. (Scott Storms) It's the biggest value in this area.
RN: How do you deal with the pressures of playing softball?
SS: I thrive under pressure. It gets hard, but I think I handle it well. It makes me want to try harder and be that hero. Nobody in my family likes to lose, and we are super competitive.
RN: How do you balance school and Sports?
SS: You have to prioritize. Having softball every day, I've made time to get my stuff done.
RN: What do you want to do in college academically?
SS: I want to go into business marketing. I want to go to law school, too. We'll see what happens.
RN: What are you doing for softball right now?
SS: I have four-hour practices on Sundays in Lockport, Ill. It's two hours away. This is for the Orland Park Sparks, my current travel team. It lasts until February. Also, I have private lessons every Thursday in Chicago. I do private lessons once a month during high school season. One of the girls on the Sparks is going to St. Peters with me.
RN: Who has been your biggest softball inspiration?
SS: Tori Nyberg (pitching coach) and Tammy Williams (hitting/fielding coach). They are amazing. They've taught me not just softball but life lessons.
RN: What are your goals for your senior season with the Bay?
SS: I just want to have fun. The stress of committing is over. I just want to win and have fun. It's always been serious and stressful training for college. Before I signed, there's always that voice telling you to do well because everyone's watching. Recruiting has become like a business. It's a matter of the coach selling her player.
RN: Do you have any advice for prospective softball players?
SS: Get a good coach, someone who played and who you trust. Join a good team because recruiters watch good teams. Get started as young as possible. Always carry your own equipment.