A member of the UBC Okanagan women’s soccer alumni is coming forward to share her inspirational story in hopes of helping others who are facing similar adversity.
In 2016, Samantha Savoy was in the midst of her rookie season with the UBCO women’s soccer team, pursuing her dream of becoming a pro. Much was expected from the then 18-year-old. Prior to signing with the Heat, Savoy’s resume was filled with success.
In her first two seasons playing for Fleetwood Park Secondary School Dragons, Savoy was named Athlete of the Month and was awarded MVP honours as a rookie and then again as a sophomore on the Dragons’ junior team. In that second MVP season, Savoy was called up to join the senior team where she earned a third-place finish in the AAA Provincial Championships. She then joined the PACWEST conferences’ Kwantlen Eagles where she was awarded a student-athlete scholarship for her achievements in both academics and athletics.
All was looking up for the 5’8” defender. That was until a serious car crash changed the course of her life in November of 2016.
With a break in the CIS schedule, Savoy decided to catch a ride to visit family and friends in Vancouver. While traveling on the Alex Fraser Bridge, a truck swerved into her vehicle’s lane and spun her vehicle 90 degrees, propelling her into a cement barrier going approximately 100 km/h.
“The impact was very severe, and it was a very traumatic experience,” recalls Savoy.
“I had discs out of place in my neck, a large concussion, bruising and PTSD. It really hit me that I was affected by the accident, when for a long time if I was in a grocery store, for example, my body would flinch without my control due to the trauma of the car accident impact.”
Due to the seriousness of her injuries, Savoy was forced to step away from the game.
In 2017, after extensive rehab, she took up competitive running to fill the void. Training under Canadian mid-distance runner, Kendra Pomfret, she was able to place sixth in her category for a half marathon and qualify for the Boston Marathon. Although, she quickly realized her love for soccer could not be replaced.
She would then make the move to Leipzig, Germany in June of 2020, where she ordered a ball and cleats and fell into her old habit of playing the game she loves. Soccer was a natural outlet for Savoy to clear her head and gain a new perspective on her situation.
A short while later after playing recreationally the unthinkable happened. A scout from Bischofswerda FV 08, a club that competes in 3.Liga, came across her talents and offered her a pro tryout.
Savoy didn’t put too much pressure on herself having not played competitively in four years, but after just two days of tryouts, she was offered a pro-contract.
“It’s interesting how things can come full circle,” said Savoy. “I took a lot of time away from the sport, but I feel like this is now my second chance to live out my dream and I am truly grateful for it.”
Before her season was put on hold due to COVID-19, Savoy had made her way up to the starting lineup and was playing full matches. Now, with all sports facilities closed, she still finds a way to push forward, often finding a patch of grass to practice her skills and stay sharp.
Reflecting on her journey, Savoy said she has a new understanding of the importance of solely focusing on the things that are in her control. From suffering a serious injury to moving to a foreign country, she never took her eye off her goal of playing pro-soccer.
“With respect to young athletes, there will be setbacks and failure but the most important thing I learned through soccer was to not take ‘no’ for an answer wherever that no is coming from,” she said.
“For example, if a coach doesn’t believe in you, keep trying, someone will take a chance on you. It comes down to belief, grit and courage. I think for anyone struggling, the little things and our little actions are so important to our success, so do them right and be a good person. “