Remembrance of Samantha by: Randy Longnecker, Samantha's High School Coach and Counselor

As a coach and school counselor I get the privilege of working with many great young people at Williamsport High School. We lost two of these great young folks this past week. I am very honored to have been asked by Sam's parents to speak today in celebration of Sam's life.

I first met Sam while working on her class schedule and career plans during her freshman year. She wanted to help others and enjoyed working with kids and felt that becoming an elementary teacher would be a good fit. I agreed and she continued to work toward that goal as she prepared for college, although, she was concerned about "throw-up" and other messy things from the little ones.

Sam came out for tennis her freshman year and showed natural talent right away. She continued to develop that year and became a very promising player. She was very coachable and always would take my critique and work on it. At county's, in her 10th grade year she found herself beating the #1 seed and only needed three points to win the county championship and go to regionals. The opposing coach called a time out. I told Sam, "You're playing great, stay in the zone, don't think just finish it out."Okay Coach!" So I walked away to show my confidence in her and to not make her nervous. By the time I got to the other side of the court, I looked back over to the court where Sam had been playing, I noticed it was empty. Then I spotted her jogging toward me. I said "Wow, Sam, what happened?", because she looked a little disappointed. "Coach, I thought about her being #1 and I lost focus." She was disappointed but did not feel a great loss. Knowing Sam, she probably was thinking about her opponent being a senior that had not won the championship yet. She just took it in stride and said, "I'll get it next time." In typical Sam fashion.

I stayed to watch her last match against Brunswick last Friday and she played very well. In winning the match, she had several hard smashes that nearly hit her opponent. However, she took the time to say, "I'm sorry, are you okay?" It was great to see after the match, the mutual respect between the two players as they left the court sharing their plans for the weekend. You could not just meet Sam. She seemed to connect with just about everyone. It was a true gift.

She could also make us laugh. One time when she visited her friend Kyle, Mrs. Marshall told Sam that Kyle had gotten two Siamese kittens and that they were so cute. Sam replied that she loved kittens and would like to see them, but asked, "How do they eat? Does one eat and then the other?" Patty asked, "What do you mean?" and Sam replied, "How do they eat when their heads are connected?" "Are you kidding", Patty asked? That's when animals are conjoined; Siamese is a breed of cat." "I'm so sorry, I'm such a ditz." said Sam. Patty,"No, that's just who you e and what make you so special."

She always cared about the other person, whether it was an opponent, or a fellow student in the lunch line with not enough money to pay for lunch...and she would pay for their food. If a lonely student was standing or sitting by themselves, she would befriend them and ask them to join her. She invested herself in everyone she met. What a great teacher she would have become.

Sam also attended the Fellowship of Christian Athletes meetings on Wednesday mornings. Two things that we were learning about was leaving a positive legacy and being a game changer. A game changer is something or someone that changes the direction or flow of the game. Sam lived as a game changer in the lives of family, fellow students, teachers, coaches and just about anyone she came in contact with. Her infectious smile, bubbly personality, sincere spirit and drive set her apart. She was always real and genuine.

Coaches coach to help young people grow, develop and reach their full potential, but sometimes you encounter a person like Sam that is able to make you better by being in their presence. Last Saturday, we had an event that was a game changer for all of us.

In terms of being a legacy – Sam accomplished that in a very positive way. She is only gone in body. Sam’s spirit will live on in our hearts and minds in the legacy of the kindness and generosity that she demonstrated.

I want to honor Sam's legacy by trying to build more positive relationships, look out for people in need and the underdogs that are around me and treat others as I would like to be treated. We don't follow the "golden rule" as much as in time past, but in this way, I would like to honor the life of Sam and my Lord and Savior. I ask that you as a community consider doing the same. In this way, we can build on the legacy that Sam started for all of us.

In closing, I'm comforted in the belief that when the Lord is finished with my work on earth and He calls me home to Paradise, I will be greeted by that great smile and a welcoming, "Hey Coach" as she greets me at the pearly gates.

Thank you.
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