Since she was 3 years old, Sam Vestal has enjoyed the simplicity of kicking a soccer ball on the freshly cut, dew-covered grass.
Though the road to professional athletics ends for most in high school, Vestal said she desires to continue after college.
Vestal played on the varsity team all four years of high school at Permian High School in Odessa, scoring around 100 career goals. When it came time to look for schools at the collegiate level, Vestal said she needed soccer to accompany her academics.
“I was determined,” Sam said. “My family always had faith in me and I wanted to make them proud. I wanted to get a degree by doing something I love.”
ACU was at the top of her desired school list because she knew the team would be closer, as she saw competition between teammates as a way to encourage growth among each other.
As a freshman and sophomore, Sam earned a spot on the 2016 and 2017 Southland Conference Commissioner’s Honor Roll and has made appearances in every game since she started.
In addition to Wildcat soccer, Sam played last summer with a semi-professional team in Houston called the Technical Institute Bluebonnets. She said playing in the Women’s Premier Soccer League was extremely different from competing at the collegiate level. Whether in the level of competition or the level of diversity, Sam said playing with the team contributed to the best summer of her life.
“At the college level, you are always having to prove yourself and up your game, but with WPSL you are just playing a game. You aren’t thinking as much, but in college you are always questioning, ‘how can I be better or do better,’” Vestal said.
For Vestal, life after college must include soccer. As a kinesiology major, she hopes to become an owner of a sports performance gym and become a personal trainer, but her ultimate goal is to play for the Chicago Red Stars, a top-ranked professional team.
“You put yourself, your body and your life through so much just for this sport you are passionate about,” Sam said, “Why give it up after that? You should try to go the furthest you possibly can. You have already gotten this far, why stop now?”
Vestal said she was inspired to push herself past collegiate soccer after attaining inspiration from a Matthew McConaughey Academy Award acceptance speech in 2014. McConaughey said he will never attain being his own hero, so the ultimate goal is to continue to chase being better. In high school, she told her friends she aspired to be a Div. I soccer player, and now tells people she can’t wait to play at the professional level.
“I look forward to making my family proud because they demand excellence from me with utmost encouragement they can give me,” Vestal said. “I am always chasing myself; I am my biggest critic.”