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Behind the Ball with Sam Staab

Saavon Smalls, TimeOut Editor

Tiger Sports (TS): If I didn’t know anything about you walking in today, what would you want me to know when I leave? 

Sam Staab (SS): I feel like I am an open book. You can ask me something and I will answer it.  

TS: How would you describe yourself without using the word soccer? 

SS: I would say I’m very driven and passionate about the things I do. As I said before, I’m an open book so you can come to me for anything and I will answer honestly and truthfully. I’m also very optimistic and energetic, I think.  

TS: Who is your favorite pro team or pro player? 

SS: My favorite professional player has nothing to do with soccer. I grew up being a Yankees fan because my dad is from New York so my favorite player of all time is Derek Jeter. I’ve always loved him and looked to him as a role model. 

TS: If you had your pick after you left Clemson, which soccer team would you play for?

SS: Everyone aspires to be on the National Team so I would say the National Team. I really like how Carli Lloyd is so passionate about the team so I definitely look up to her. 

TS: So, what made you want to play soccer growing up? Who or what was your inspiration? 

SS: I just started playing when I was young and I had a lot of fun with it. All my friends played soccer and we just had a really good time together. 

So I think it was mainly the social part of it and then I realized I was actually kind of good. Then it just became really fun to play and all my friends play D1 soccer at other places so it was just a lot of fun to play with them.  

TS: What is one of the best pieces of advice you’ve ever been given? 

SS: Don’t sweat the small things. Definitely that. Because I know sometimes during the day a little thing will happen and I will get off track and I’m just like think long term. 

Don’t sweat the small things, it’ll be fine.

TS: Obviously, you guys are off to a good start this season. How confident are you and the team as a whole about the rest of the season and a possible postseason?  

SS: I am very confident with our team. We have definitely come a long way, even since the start of the season. 

At the beginning of the season we had some doubts but now we are all really confident in our abilities as a team and as individuals so I am

definitely very confident about our team. I’m excited to see where we end up this year. 

TS: Is there any added pressure on you guys since the team has been really successful the last few years? 

SS: I think yes, there is added pressure but we’ve all been working on trying to not think about the added pressure but just have fun because that’s why we all want to play soccer. That’s why we’re all here, just to have fun. 

So, there definitely is added pressure but we have all just tried to let go of it and do our thing. 

TS: Besides winning, which is every athlete’s goal, do you have any personal goals for the season?

SS: Honestly, just being an impact player on our team and just trying as a whole for our team, just being there for our teammates. Putting everyone in the right positions and assisting in order for our whole team to do well. I don’t really have any personal goals, I just want to do well as a team. 

TS: You’ve played in some really big games here at Clemson, what are those moments leading up to a kickoff like? 

SS: I get so nervous when we all hold hands and the National Anthem is played. I get really nervous then. Before, we all get really amped together, really hyped. I’m pretty calm during warm-ups and stuff but the National Anthem is when we all get nervous. We try just to say “Okay guys, let’s have some fun this game. Let’s do this and let’s have some fun.” And then when kickoff happens we are all fine. I’m fine once the kickoff goes. 

TS: What was it about Clemson that brought you here?

SS: So, I’m from San Diego so Clemson itself, just being so different from home, was something I really enjoyed. And I just love the family atmosphere. Once I was here, I just loved it instantly. I came and it was such a dreary day, awful, pouring and raining, it was so bad. But once I got on campus, all the girls were so nice, they were so sweet. 

TS: What is your favorite part about playing here or one of your favorite memories? 

SS: I just love, like I said before, the family part of it. All the girls are so nice. Our coaches really want the best for you and everything. 

And my favorite memory was one practice before the Wake Forest game last year. It was pouring rain and just in the middle of

practice, one of our assistant coaches, Siri [Mullinix] found a puddle and she just started sliding in it. 

And so all of us were just sliding in it like a slip ‘n slide like all practice and it was just so much fun. 

The next couple of games we played so well because we had a little break from all the stress and everything. But that was probably one of my favorite moments

because our coaches were letting loose, we were all just letting

loose, and it was a lot of fun. 

TS: You have a lot of veteran leadership on this team, a lot of girls back from last year, what are you guys doing to mentor the younger girls here? 

SS: I have a different role than everyone because I’m just a sophomore so I am still technically one of the underclassmen. But we have a leadership group and I’m also part of that, and we try to connect with the underclassmen more, the underclassmen to the upperclassmen. So we’ve created almost like a sorority type thing where we have families, so like a big and little. That’s how we are trying to pass our messages of team culture and experience and all that through the team. 

TS: So, after college you aspire to play professionally. But how about after that? Have you given any thought to life after soccer? 

SS: I’m a finance major. I haven’t decided yet if I want to do investment banking or being an accountant or something like that. I know that sounds super interesting but it’s actually what I like to do so definitely something in the business world. 

TS: So like you said, you’re a sophomore now, you have a full year of experience under your belt. What’s the biggest take away from freshman year to now?

SS: I would say, be confident with yourself. I know last year that was a big thing I had to get over, was confidence, because I was the youngest player out there for the most part. I know the coaches instilled that for me, you need to be confident, we’re putting you out there for a reason. So definitely be confident in yourself. 

TS: Your coach has praised the impact you and the other players have had on this team. What do you hope your impact on this program will be 10 years from now? 

SS: I just hope that, as a whole, we build a team culture that has a great foundation and that everyone is nice to each other. 

I just want it to be a fun atmosphere. I’ve had so much fun my last year and a half here and I want that to be carried through many more years because that’s what Clemson is about: having fun. 

And I know, as you said before, the pressures of being an athlete gets to you but I mean just playing the sport you love should be fun and I want that to be carried out for years to come. 

TS: You mentioned the pressures of being an athlete. There’s also pressures from being a student, especially here at Clemson. What’s it like balancing the two for you? 

SS: Vickery does an amazing job supporting the student-athletes and I think definitely using the resources in Vickery has helped me not have too much trouble with the academic side of being a student-athlete. 

Definitely that and I’ve typically had pretty good time management skills as well. So time management and using the resources that Vickery gives us. 

TS: If you could talk to a young girl who is aspiring to play college soccer, what is a piece of advice that you would give her?

SS: Through the recruiting process, definitely send out emails to coaches because that’s important. Just go somewhere you will have fun because that’s what we all want to do, just have a good time. 

If you’re going to spend four years somewhere you’re going to

want to like it so definitely go somewhere your heart wants to be not just where the best program is. 

TS: For you, what was the biggest adjustment of transitioning from high school to college? 

SS: Honestly the biggest adjustment was, well the speed of play was different and everything, but the biggest adjustment was probably culturally. 

Just coming from a big city to a small college town. But I’ve definitely liked it so far. I’m still adjusting now, it’s only been a year, but it’s been fun. Making the adjustments is just as fun as experiencing everything. 

TS: Is there another player on the team who has helped you adjust or mentored you?

SS: Yeah. I play center back and we have two center backs and the other one’s name is Claire Wagner, she’s a senior on the team, and she’s been my mentor through everything; school and soccer she’s definitely helped me with everything I’ve needed help with or asked questions about. Playing, school wise, everything. 

TS: There are a lot of seniors on this team. What is it you younger players want to help them achieve before they leave here?

SS: We want to make it to the College Cup which is the final four and we want to win an ACC Championship. 

TS: So, if someone isn’t familiar with Clemson soccer, what is something you would want them to know about you guys?

SS: We’re not necessarily just a team, we’re a family. I know that sounds cliché, but we really are. All the girls really care for each other. We are all together 24/7, always care about each other. If anything’s going wrong, you have your 27 other girls to lean on. So Clemson family is a real thing on our team for sure 

TS: And then for those fans that are familiar with you, what would you want to tell them?

SS: Probably that we are going to do big things this year so keep up with us. 


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