Extra Points

Senior soccer player Sam Newton doubles as football kicker


Photo by Abby Turner

Number 3 Sam Newton waits for his chance to play. Cool, calm and collected he is ready for the chance to bring his “A” game on home turf.

“WE WANT SAM!!! WE WANT SAM!!! WE WANT SAM!!!” the student section roars. A second left on the clock, he lines up for the kick. He takes a deep breath through the wind and rain, beating against his face. 42 yards; that’s how far he has to kick it. Tie game 6-6. There’s the snap, two strides, and then contact. The ball rockets through the air. Farther, and father, and father, and father… IT’S GOOD! Spartans are up 9-6 against Fort Zumwalt East at half on Aug. 30 game because of one kick by a rookie, senior Samuel Newton

When Newton is mentioned, soccer is immediately the first association. A two-year varsity player and captain, Newton eats, sleeps, and breathes soccer.

 “I like [soccer] because it satisfies my hunger to keep working and striving to be the best person I can be on and off the field,” Newton explained.

Assistant Coach Nicholas Beckmann states that not only is Newton a dedicated player, but a valuable one for the team this year. 

“For us, he is a big part of the core group. He’s a captain for us. He’s taken on the leadership role pretty well. He’s a strong player, good left foot, good on the ball. And we say, that he kinda has a motor like he can run forever,” Coach Beckmann said. 

So, why all of the sudden is football in the picture this year for Newton? Newton is close with weight lifting teacher Coach Malach Radigan, who also happens to be an assistant coach for football. 

“I train the soccer team, and so one day I was joking around and I was like, ‘We need a kicker. Which one of you guys want to kick for football?’ And a few went out and were kicking and practicing and there were three or four of them that could really do it, but Sam was really the one who like kind of took the initiative to be like, ‘I’ll do it for real,’” Coach Radigan explained. 

The decision to take on two fall sports was made easy by the communication with the coaches of both teams and knowing where his priorities are. 

“Sam’s number one priority is soccer, so we know that. The days when we don’t have Sam, we’re just going to onside it or we’re just going to do something different. But like we know for him that soccer’s the number one priority. We don’t ever want to take that away from him,” Coach Radigan said. 

Because of communication with the coaches, Newton is able to create separate practice times in order to prepare for games. 

“The coaches do a good job of getting me in on times that I can [practice kicking] for football. I go after soccer practice and before school [to kick] for football. And they just understand that it’s a busy season and they do a good job of getting me in,” Newton said. 

But what’s more, the level of play that Newton brings to both soccer and football is incomparable to his energy. 

“When Sam steps on our field the team loves him, like they go crazy for Sam,” Coach Radigan said. “They all want him to be out there. And then obviously, we kicked our first field goal in like four years with Sam. And so the crowd went crazy. The team went crazy. So, he’s already done more than we would have thought of.”

The only concern for the soccer program is that Newton stays healthy and does not get hurt kicking for football.

“The only thing we tell Sam is don’t get hurt. He’s not the biggest guy, but he can handle himself fine. He’s just a big part of our team, so we want to make sure that he’s taken care of,” Coach Beckmann stated. 

It is safe to say that Newton is being well taken care of by not only his coaches but his new teammates who call him ‘Kicker’ when they see him in the hallways and talk about how awesome he is with classmates during school. Being the senior newbie has not hindered the relationship Newton has been able to build with his team according to junior football player Alexander Vogel

“We call him kicker,” Vogel chuckled. “[Having Sam] has definitely been a positive thing. I mean, for a while now we’ve been kicking onside kicks, and going on fourth downs, so being able to kick field goals that can determine a game is really big for us. Before football, we were still friends  

“They’re all just really pumped that I’m on the team,” Newton grinned. “Once I started showing up to practice more and seeing some more friendly faces and just like making friends, it’s become a lot easier.” 

The Spartans were able to win their season opener game with Newton on the field. Although it was a great team effort that accomplished the job, Newton’s 42 yard field goal was definitely the talk of the town following the win. 

“It was incredible. Just seeing how hype everyone on the football team got and like feeling the energy running back to the locker room and once we got in the locker room was incredible. [Scoring a soccer goal] does not compare, it just doesn’t. I’ve never experienced anything like that in soccer,” Newton explained. 

More than the attention that Newton’s unique situation has brought him by playing two fall sports, Newton has a deeper meaning behind why he is choosing to do both and what drives him to compete. 

“In football, a big part of it is my dad because that was the sport that he played, and so I just want to make [my parents] proud. And in soccer, it’s kind of like a personal drive because I’ve played so long that I want to not just be better than the people I’m playing with at the time, but it’s about being better than the people that came before me,” Newton said. “Just being the best person I can be through it all.” 

The team rushes him. Bodies bumping into each other from every direction. Hugs, pats on the back, and grins are spread all around. This is what it’s like for hard work to pay off. For the rearranging schedules, the early morning alarms for practice, the going from one to the next, the all out grind; to be worth it. This is what it means to compete.