Sam Swetz coached the Penn State Fayette, The Eberly Campus women’s volleyball team to a third-place finish nationally in the United States Collegiate Athletic Association last season.
She did that while working towards her Masters degree in in Sports Management with a focus in Intercollegiate Athletics Administration at California University of Pennsylvania, as well as working a job at Penn State Fayette in administration.
Swetz earned her undergrad degree in Criminal Justice at Penn State Fayette in 2015, and as of today, she can officially say that she is now a proud owner of her Master’s degree after her grades just posted.
With her degree now in tow, Swetz will not have to balance schoolwork with coaching any more.
However, she has another job taking up a good portion of her time as she and her husband Corey, who have a son Lincoln that turns two in November, are expecting their second child in February.
“I can’t thank Corey enough,” said Swetz. “He was my absolute biggest supporter in all of this and I can’t thank him enough for always supporting me to follow my dreams.”
Practice officially starts on Tuesday, Aug. 19, and the team only lost three players from last year’s team while bringing in eight recruits.
“The team knows that my expectations are at an all-time high this year,” said Swetz. “This is my first year where I recruited all of the players and I have been recruiting for this year.”
Penn State Fayette opens in the USCAA Tip-Off Tournament at Penn State Beaver where the Lady Lions will face the University of Cincinnati Claremont, the team it defeated for third place last season.
While Swetz is excited and focused on the season, she takes more pride in the academic achievement of her players.
“The team averaged over a 3.0 this semester and did amazing in the classroom,” she said. “They would sometimes get down on themselves, but I told them that I am with them in this as I was also going to school and at volleyball as well.”
Swetz finished her Master’s with a 3.5 GPA, but initially she struggled with school.
“It was tough for me growing up and I can’t thank my parents enough for the countless long nights sitting at the kitchen table with tears in our eyes as I tried to grasp any part of my studies,” she said. “In elementary school, I had multiple tutors that my parents would send me to after school to help me with reading.
“In fifth grade, they felt it was best to hold me back because my difficulties weren’t getting any better.”
Ironically, sports helped Swetz.
“When I went to middle school, I still struggled and faked being sick to go home,” she said. “Then, when seventh grade hit, I started school basketball and volleyball, which helped me channel my focus because I knew I only had a certain amount of time to get my homework done because of practice.
“I found motivation to stay later with teachers, asking them questions and wanting to become better so that I could stay eligible to play.
“I found confidence in sports that I didn’t have prior because I found something that I was good at.”
The hard work paid off.
“In high school, my GPA began averaging around a 3.0, which was huge for me, but I still had some focus classes I was put in to assist me,” she added. “I didn’t think it was possible for me to go to college and I wasn’t even thinking about it, but then I had college coaches talk to me about playing at the collegiate level.
“It made me feel like maybe it was possible.”
It was at Penn State Fayette that Swetz hit her groove.
“In college, I found my love for academics and I can’t thank the Fayette professors enough for helping me fall in love with school,” she said “But even after I graduated from Fayette and became a drug and alcohol counselor, I knew something was missing.”
Swetz did not have sports in her life.
“I was missing the athletic portion that completely propelled my life,” she said. “I had been coaching on the side, but I wanted more.”
Does Swetz, with her amazing back story, feel that she is a role model for her players?
“I would like to think so,” she said. “I can empathize with them academically.”
Penn State Fayette Athletic Director Lou Zadecky knows that Swetz is a role model.
“We are so excited to have Sam working here as she is an inspiration for student-athletes,” praised Zadecky. “She strives to be her best every day and instills that in the volleyball program and our athletic department every day.
“She is an inspiration for our student-athletes.”
With Swetz coaching, working part-time, going to school full-time and graduating, being a wife and mother who is expecting her second child, saying that Swetz is a role model to just her players is an understatement.
To anyone who learns her story and has struggled themselves academically, or still does, Swetz is a role model who has proven that goals and dreams can indeed be achieved.
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