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"Not only is Sam a phenomenal person, he is an outstanding coach. He is single-handedly responsible for developing me into the player that I became in college. As a former competitor himself, he was able to guide and coach me in a way that was patient, practical and results-driven. If it were not for Sam, I would not have been as successful as I was. I received multiple accolades under his guidance, including: all tournament recognition, all conference recognition, university record holder, all American honors (1st time in Tulane volleyball history) and Hall of Fame induction. I owe much of my success to him and I firmly believe any player under his direction will not only bloom as I did, but will also end up being a better individual overall. Anyone lucky enough to have been coached by Sam for any length of time will likely acknowledge his awesomeness as well!"
-Deva Fowler - All American, Hall of Famer, Tulane University
"I had the privilege to be coached by Sam during my junior year. What an experience! Not only that I got to meet one of the greatest coaches ever, but I also got to know an extraordinary person who is always there when you need him.
As a coach, Sam is very passionate about the game and every single aspect of it. He will share his great knowledge and experience so they relate to each player individually. I absolutely loved every practice that I had with Sam. He made me understand and appreciate blocking in a completely new and different way.
Off the court, Sam is not much different than on the court. He always smiles, letting you know that everything will be fine. I feel very lucky that I had an opportunity to be coached by Sam as he has it all; expanding knowledge, love for the game and a big heart. Good luck Sam, I know you will do great!
-Vesna Ukic, former player from The University of Central Florida
"I consider myself lucky to have been coached by Sam for four years at Tulane University. Sam is the perfect combination of technical expertise and endless passion for the game. All the knowledge in the world will not make a difference if the coach is not able to inspire players and Sam is hands-down the most inspirational coach I had in all my 11 years of playing. He truly cared about his players both on and off the court. As a libero, Sam's expertise improved my ball control, reading the hitter and blockers and helped me to excel during my college career. He was always willing to give extra time, encouragement, and insight into the game. With his history as a professional player, Sam could always run drills to simulate any level of competition needed which gave our team the extra push during training. On a personal note, Sam is kind, warm and has a smile that will always brighten your day. Sam not only made me a better player but also a better person. I would give Sam my very highest recommendation."
-Karlyn (Daly) Taylor, former player from Tulane University, 2003 Conference USA Defensive Player of the Year
"I was recruited by Sam to Tulane University in high school. Sadly, by the time I arrived for my freshman season, Sam was offered another coaching position. This was pretty devastating news to me as Sam was a large part of my decision for choosing Tulane. I knew that not only would he be a fantastic coach, but that he was someone who cared deeply for my well-being, that he was honest, personable and has the heart the size of Texas! After my freshman year I transferred to the University of Oklahoma. A year later, I was in the academic center and I saw my coach, Santiago, walking through with the candidate for the assistant coach position that was open-that candidate was Sam. After my initial feeling of shock and disbelief, I could hardly contain my excitement. I was so thankful to have another opportunity to be coached by Sam, and for my last collegiate season, Sam far exceeded my expectations.
As a coach, Sam has an immense amount of knowledge for the game. There was never a question that went unanswered or that didn't make sense. Technically, I know my game improved with Sam's coaching, because he doesn't stop until you get it right. Not only is he full of information, but he has a great way of relating to players and approaching you in a way that is calm but direct. He makes sure that you not only execute the skills correctly, but that you understand the reasoning behind what it is you're doing. No matter how many times Sam had to correct me, he always did it with respect.
As a human being off the court, it doesn't get any better than Sam. He is a kind, gentle soul with a smile that will brighten your worst day. I truly am blessed to have had the opportunity to be coached by Sam, and am thankful to also call him a friend."
-Sarah (Weiland) Machen-former player from the University of Oklahoma and current Austin Juniors club coach, 2007 All Big-12 and All-Region
"Sam is one of the generous and hard working people I've had the pleasure of working with. While he was a coach for the women's volleyball team at University of Central Florida, he also donated his time to the UCF men's club volleyball team. After working a full day with the women, he would come to our practice late at night, and run us through drills, providing insight along with criticism, and did everything in his power to improve us as a team and as individuals.
In one USAV tournament, we didn't have enough players to compete, so he laced up and played alongside us. What a treat that was.
I've always respected the grace and ferocity he employed while facing anything on or off the court, and as such, I hold a special place in my heart for him."
-William Buckley, University of Central Florida graduate and former member of UCF men's club volleyball team
"Sam is one of the most passionate people I've met in coaching, and we all know there are lots of passionate coaches out there. He looooves volleyball and he is really good at explaining things he believes in. When he speaks EVERYONE listens, It's pretty amazing to see the effect he has on younger and older crowds. Loved learning from him while working together, he broke down blocking to the level I have never been introduced and it all made sense! Thank you Sam and good luck!
-Sanja Tomasevic, University of Miami, women's assistant volleyball coach, 2005 National Champion with the University of Washington, two-time All American
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