By Owen Krucoff
Boyds, Md., (5/22/19) – Getting drafted into any professional sports league can be a life-changing experience. Besides launching your career as a professional athlete, you may find yourself transported across the country to play in a city you’ve never seen, far from familiar territory or the area where you grew up.
For Spirit defender Sam Staab, a native of San Diego, being selected by Washington with the fourth overall pick in this year’s NWSL Draft meant having to move across the country to live and to play the sport she loves. But, having already played four years on the east coast while in college at Clemson University, she knew what to expect.
“I had initially done the move about four years ago for school,” Staab said. “I was a little culture shocked at first but honestly, it’s been a great experience being away from home. I wanted to do something different from what I’ve been used to and I’ve really enjoyed that.”
In case there were still any doubts about how Staab would adjust to life as an NWSL rookie thousands of miles from home, she has put them to rest with her early contributions on the field. She scored the Spirit’s first goal of the season in her pro debut, a season-opening win 2-0 win over Sky Blue FC, and she has yet to miss any action in the first five games of the campaign, playing all 450 minutes.
Her success on the field has been boosted by her relationships off the field with her new teammates.
“Our team is really close,” Staab said. “There’s a lot of us that all live in apartments very close to each other and we’re always doing something together. I think us connecting so well off the field has really helped us mesh well on the field as well and get results.”
One of Staab’s favorite activities to do with teammates has been to visit the D.C. area’s many landmarks and tourist attractions, particularly the National Mall.
“We’ve gone down [to the Mall] a couple of times and walked or scootered around the whole area,” Staab said. “I have always been intrigued by U.S. history and being able to be so close to everything has been really cool. We were able to make it to the cherry blossom festival this year as well, and that was really awesome to see.”
No matter how well Staab adjusts to living in the DMV, home will still be home, and she knows there are things she still misses about the west coast.
“The weather, especially at home, cannot be beaten,” Staab said. “There’s also just a different vibe on the west coast. It’s hard to explain, but it’s just different, and I miss that.”
Even without the constant sunny skies and warm weather of Southern California, Staab recognizes that D.C. still has plenty to offer.
“The DMV area is a really great place to be in,” she said. “There’s always something going on or something to do, which I love because I really enjoy being busy and going and doing things. It’s also a really diverse area and we’re relatively close to a lot, which is nice.”
As she continues to develop in her rookie season and help the Spirit move up the NWSL standings, Staab knows that her teammates and coaches have her back.
“It’s really great to have so many welcoming and just overall really great people around you when you’re in a new area,” she said. “It’s been so amazing.”