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East County Wednesday, Mar. 13, 2019 1 year ago

East County Athlete of the Week: Samantha van der Sommen

The Lakewood Ranch junior talks the high jump and learning not to doubt herself
by: Ryan Kohn Sports Reporter

Samantha van der Sommen is a junior on the Lakewood Ranch High girls track and field team. She won the high jump (5 feet, 4.25 inches) March 8 at the Charlotte Invitational at Charlotte High. 

When did you start track and field?

I started in eighth grade at Oneonta Middle in Oneonta, N.Y. People were getting into field events and I was tall (5-foot-8; she is 5-foot-11 now) so I decided to try the high jump. I started taking it seriously in ninth grade at Oneonta High. I moved to Lakewood Ranch after that season. 

What is the appeal to you?

The environment of track and field is great. Individual sports are easier to me because you only work for yourself. You cannot blame anyone else. I like the pressure that comes with that. 

What is your best event?

The high jump and the triple jump are my two main events, and the high jump is my best. It is the one event I have always stuck with throughout my career. I also run the 100- and 300-meter hurdles on the side. 

What is your favorite memory?

The Florida State University Relays last year were fun. It was one of the biggest meets I have been to, which means more people watching, and I got to spend a lot of time with my teammates and coaches. (She finished fifth in the high jump at the meet, jumping five feet, 1.75 inches.) 

What has been your biggest challenge?

My head. I get inside my own head a lot, especially at the bigger meets. I get nervous. I just need to work through it and listen to my teammates and coaches when they tell me, 'You just need to chill out.' If I do what I always do, I will be fine. 

What are your goals for this season?

I want to match and beat my personal record for the high jump, which is 5 feet, 6 inches. (She set it at the Class 4A regional meet last season.)

What is your favorite food?

I love anything with chocolate in it. 

What is your favorite movie?

I think "Legally Blonde" is probably my favorite.

What is your dream vacation?

I want to visit the Greek islands. They look so beautiful. 

What would you want your superpower to be? 

I would want the ability to read minds, to know what people are thinking. I feel like it would give me an advantage. 

What is your biggest fear?

Losing someone that is close to me, like a parent or a really good friend. 

What is the best advice you have received?

Do not doubt yourself. Always believe. It is hard. I have faced it (having doubt). But you have to believe you can do it. 

Finish this sentence: "Samantha van der Sommen is ... "

... Original. I try hard not to be fake. I am straight up with people while still being kind. 

I’m the sports reporter for Sarasota and East County and a Missouri School of Journalism graduate. I was born and raised in Olney, MD. My biggest inspirations are Wright Thompson and Alex Ovechkin. My strongest belief is that mint chip ice cream is unbeatable.

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