Oswego East Student Athlete of the Week: Sam Perez
Jan 24, 2017 07:50PM ● Published by Zac Sadek
Sam Perez-Seated Center-Parents Joe and Shelley Perez
Despite beginning as a program in 2004, the girls bowling team has already cemented its legacy as one of the most successful programs in the schools short history.
Claiming an individual state champion in 2013 alum Giselle Poss, and building on last year’s 7th place state finish as a team, every girl who takes her turn is challenged to build on the legacy of those who came before. Senior Samantha Perez carries that mantle as a team captain, which is why she is this week’s Oswego East student athlete of the week.
Sam began preparing for her role as team captain at an early age. Her mother, Shelley Perez, said, “At the age of 10, Samantha’s father [Joe] got her involved in the sport.” She goes on to add, “After years of practices, lessons, and bowling tournaments, Samantha blossomed into a talented bowler with beautiful form.”
Fortunately for Oswego East, that practice has paid off as Samantha leads the team with a 208 average, good enough for third position overall in the Southwest Prairie Conference. Practice and hard work is the name of the game in bowling, as lane conditions constantly change, and the slightest hitch in form can throw even the best bowlers in a funk. In Sam’s words, “You need to practice a lot. If you take a week off it puts you behind as if you took the month off.”
Head coach and Assistant Athletic Director Jeremy Hillman, who Sam describes as, “very driven and motivating, and someone who helps get me out of a funk when I’m not bowling well,” has seen his fair share of All-Conference and All-State bowlers, holds Sam in the highest esteem.
“Athletes like Sam don’t come around every day, so we are extremely appreciative of the time we have with her,” says Jeremy. He goes on to add, “As a captain of the team, Sam is responsible for keeping the season light and enjoyable for all, as she has a personality that is easily approachable and likeable.”
It is not just Sam’s accolades on the lanes that has earned her the distinction of athlete of the week. Sam ranks in the top 15% of the senior class with a 4.0 G.P.A., and earned a 24 on the ACT. Sam has challenged herself at OE by taking multiple advanced placement and honors courses, and her hard work inside the classroom and on the lanes have earned her an athletic and academic scholarship from Valparaiso University in Indiana, which she has accepted and will attend in the fall.
Perhaps what stands out most about Sam is her compassion and care for others, especially her family. Sam and her family have gone through some harsh obstacles, when both her mother Shelley and father Joe were diagnosed with cancer. Watching her parents fight their disease,
Sam heard a calling for the medicine field after watching and admiring the work the care doctors showed to her parents. Sam will major in nursing at Valparaiso, while her sister Megan, a graduate of OE in 2013, is currently on track to graduate from the University of Illinois in Pre-Med.
While most high school students (and adults for that matter) would crumble under such stress, it only reinforced the resolve and strength of the Perez family. Nancy Vesta, Sam’s Medical Topics teacher, has no doubt Sam has just what it takes to be a successful nurse. “[Sam] has a positive attitude and is willing to work hard to reach her goals,” she continues, “Sam is compassionate and kind, qualities that all nurses possess. I have no doubt she will be a fantastic nurse!”
While soft spoken and kind, Sam’s tenacity and relentless work ethic have put her and the girls bowling team in a position to carry on the legacy left by those who came before. Sam will no doubt be remembered in this storied program, as Jeremy Hillman says, “Samantha will be a tough girl to replace.” He goes on to add, “I don’t think you can ever replace that kind of athlete and person.”
For those 8th graders who will join the Wolf nation in the fall, Sam suggests they, “get involved, because being in more clubs and sports give you access to real world scenarios.” As the team continues to compete for another conference championship and a hopeful run downstate, the Wolf family will continue to support Sam and her team as they add to the history of one of the most successful programs in school history.