FREDERICK, Md. – When she was 5, Samantha Meyers followed her older brother’s footsteps to the soccer field.
Their parents thought Samantha’s brother, Kurt, was too little for football, so they signed him up for a local Damascus soccer team.
Samantha, eager to emulate her brother, wanted to kick the ball, too. There was no girls’ team in their hometown so she played with the boys. “I hung right in there,” she said.
Now 16, Samantha is devoted to the sport. When she is not competing, she is training. And when she has time, she tutors younger players.
That devotion is paying off. Last month, she was the only Marylander named by Parade magazine to the All-American Girls High School Soccer Team. Last year, two Western Maryland newspapers – the Frederick News-Post and the Herald-Mail – named her player of the year.
Her mother, Theresa Curran, said she hopes Samantha’s work will pay off with a college scholarship to a top-ranked program. Samantha said it also may lead to a career.
Her training has caused her to wonder how muscles work. She said she would like to become a physical therapist, helping athletes and car accident victims overcome injuries.
For now, what soccer means is “continuously hard work,” said Samantha, a junior at Governor Thomas Johnson High School in Frederick.
Elite players can play three venues: high school soccer, club soccer and Olympic development program soccer. Samantha, who lives in Frederick with her mother, plays all three.
“It’s a dizzying schedule,” said her high school coach, Chuck Nichols.
This week, Samantha went to San Diego with the national Olympic develop program. About 30 junior players from around the country were invited to train at this U.S. Olympic Training Center.
At the end of March, Samantha will be traveling to China for 10 days with the Region I girls Olympic development program team. The team is scheduled to play five games there.
Then Samantha will resume training with her club, the Columbia Phoenix. Two or three times a week, she will drive to Columbia for practice. The games are on weekends and lead to the state’s cup finals in June.
Her mother said soccer has given Samantha tremendous self- esteem.
Samantha said the game has taught her discipline. She said she had to learn how to organize her time to make room for homework. She now carries a 3.6 grade-point average.
But Samantha also likes to keep up with social life at school. “I am head of the decorations committee” for the prom, she said.
And she finds time for dating.
“I have a boyfriend,” Samantha giggles. He is also into sports.
Samantha said she owes a lot to her parents, who are now divorced. They have always been supportive, she said.
Before Samantha was old enough to drive, she said her mother would miss work to drive her to soccer practice.
And the game can be expensive. Curran said she spends about $5,000 a year on Samantha’s soccer, mostly for travel and fees.
The U.S. Soccer Federation is paying for the San Diego trip expenses. But the trip to China costs about $2,900 and the parents are supposed to pay at least $1,300, said Region 1 administrator Ellie Sidorenko.
In the meantime, Samantha’s honor collection is growing. She was named to the 1996 National Soccer Coaches Association/Umbro All-American team.
Curran said she had no idea her daughter would be this successful.
“I never dreamed it would go this far,” she said. -30-