Local Star Makes Stetson Final Answer
Sammie Matthews ready to score for Stetson next year
From her middle school days in Palmetto through her high school career at IMG Academy, the local soccer star knew she wanted to play college soccer and loved the idea of staying in Florida. Her game was raw; her strengths were her blazing speed and tireless work ethic. When she came to the IMG Academy soccer program as a freshman, the process of her dreams becoming reality was put into motion.
"I've learned so much at IMG Academy," Matthews said. "On the physical side, the experience is different for every individual because everyone develops differently and needs to improve in different areas. The mental side is something that is important for every player in every sport. I've learned that you truly get out what you put into your work, and if you cut corners it will show. It's important to force myself to work every day because I know my competitors are out there doing the same thing."
During her time at IMG, Matthews has often found success on the field, which has helped her to stay in the right state of mind.
"I remember playing in a tournament at Walt Disney World when I was a sophomore, and I was actually playing up a division," she said. "We won the entire tournament and I scored a goal, which gave me a huge confidence-boost."
Although she's had a productive career at IMG Academy, she wasn't sure if she'd be ready for college immediately after high school. She started school a year early, so if she decided to take a year off she'd enter college at the average age.
"I was considering staying at IMG Academy for a year and doing the post-graduate program," Matthews said. "I would have been able to delay college for a year while I improved my game, and also have more time to look at my college options. It was getting late in the season to still be looking at colleges so I had to make some decisions."
While she was still deciding what to do, Sammie began to look at colleges; a new venture for the young senior, who turned 17 on March 10. Sammie found mutual interest in Flagler, Lander, and Eckerd College in St. Pete, among others. Then she took a trip Stetson and loved what she saw.
"When I went to visit for the first time I was nervous," Sammie recalls, "I hadn't really been on many visits and I didn't know what to expect. When I arrived I talked to the assistant coach, Brittany Jones, and I felt really comfortable. After meeting the entire coaching staff and seeing the campus, I knew that Stetson was the right fit for me. I knew that it was a great academic school, which is very important to me, and then when I visited the campus it sealed the deal."
As she finishes up her final season with the IMG Academy team, her coaches speak highly of the 17-year-old. Feelings of pride and nostalgia surround the time spent with Matthews, and the coaches couldn't be happier to present Stetson University with one of their prized players. Coach Nicole De Jongh reflected on her experiences with Sammie Matthews:
"Sammie has been a valuable asset to the Academy for many years. I have had the pleasure of working with her for two years now, and each year she continues to impress me. She exemplifies what we're about at the academy with her attitude, concentration, and effort. She is a true coach's player - one who doesn't complain, one who is dependable, one who leads the team. I remember hearing before I arrived at the academy how Sammie was awarded the Most Improved Player."
Coach deJongh continued. "I believe this is what makes Sammie such a model for the Academy and an inspiration for other players. She was not always a great player, but she was determined to become one. Combined with the environment that the Academy provides, and Sammie's hard work and dedication to improve, she has developed into one of the best players in our women's program. I look forward to hearing of her future success."
Sammie carries the sentiments of IMG Academy with her, and is ready to make the two-and-a-half hour drive to Stetson in the first week of August to officially begin her college soccer career.