Westborough three-sport athlete Kate Sams is ‘every coach’s dream’

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Westborough three-sport athlete Kate Sams is ‘every coach’s dream’
Westborough senior captain Kate Sams is greeted by teammates as she sprints onto the court to start a basketball game. (Photo/Evan Walsh)

WESTBOROUGH – Kate Sams couldn’t wait to get involved in sports — literally.

Eager for her soccer practice, 4-year-old Sams quickly got ready, changing into her uniform, lacing up her cleats and gathering her equipment. Sams was ready to compete, but there was just one problem: It was 1 p.m., and practice wouldn’t start for another four hours.

Sams didn’t mistake the time — she was just that excited to play. “She’s had the biggest appetite for sports literally since she could walk,” said Mike Sams, Kate’s father, remembering a conversation he had with her mother, Courtney, at the time. “This is when they’re playing with pop-up nets, she’s four years old… She’s just always loved sports.”

Now a Westborough High School senior, Sams never lost her passion for athletics. Over the last four years, she’s become a standout athlete on the Rangers’ soccer, basketball and lacrosse teams. Although Sams has enjoyed impressive athletic success over her high-school career, she’s just as celebrated for her leadership, sportsmanship and lasting impact on coaches and teammates.

Westborough three-sport athlete Kate Sams is ‘every coach’s dream’
Westborough senior captain Kate Sams poses with family as she is recognized after her Senior Night basketball game. (Photo/Evan Walsh)

‘She just loves to play’

With hourslong practices and games, sports can be an enormous time commitment — but Sams enjoys every minute. Although she competes in three consecutive seasons — going through nine months of nonstop activity and practice — Sams said she doesn’t take sports for granted.

“Sports make me feel like nothing else can. As soon as I step on the field or court, I feel like nothing else matters anymore and I’m just here to play. It’s a fun escape that I hope everyone can experience. It really does mean so much to me,” she told the Community Advocate.

Although Sams loves sports, she never wanted to focus on just one. Her father — who coached her in youth sports growing up — offered her various club and AAU options, but she enjoyed all three of the sports that she played, and opted to continue playing soccer, basketball and lacrosse.

Westborough three-sport athlete Kate Sams is ‘every coach’s dream’
The group of Westborough Varsity Soccer seniors. Kate Sams is standing second from left (top row). (Photo/Courtesy)

When asked which sport she enjoys best, her answer is simple: whatever sport she’s playing.

“I think Kate’s path is, ‘I just love playing and I really love these different things. I’m going to just go with them,’ ” said Soccer Coach Scott Moroney. “Kate just loves to play. That’s the core. She just loves to play.”

Though she plays three quite different sports, one quality is immediately apparent when watching Sams in action: toughness. She’s the one diving on the court to capture the rebound. In basketball, she drew enough fouls to break the school record for free-throw makes. In soccer, she played every minute of the season, even in the blazing heat. She gives “100%” 100% of the time.

“I think hustle is something you can control and find within you to bring out. Even when I’m having a tough offensive or defensive game, it’s the hustle I can bring out — diving after the ball, intercepting a pass. It comes from the heart. I leave it all out there,” Sams shared.

“She’s unbelievably versatile — like every coach’s dream in that respect. As far her ability to dig deep and get gritty, yeah, Kate has got it… Kate is so unbelievably capable. So unbelievably talented,” Lacrosse Coach Whitney McKay said.

Coaches also pointed to what her father called her “sports instincts.”

Sams can be trusted to make the right play at the right time; McKay credited her as the person willing to do “whatever, whenever.” Throughout her athletic career, Sams was a four-year varsity player in basketball and lacrosse, captaining both teams. Most recently, she was named a first-team Midland-Wachusett League All-Star for basketball.

Westborough three-sport athlete Kate Sams is ‘every coach’s dream’
Kate Sams on the lacrosse field. (Photo/Courtesy)

‘Quiet leadership’

Sams makes herself known come game-time, but around the team, she isn’t always the loudest or most assertive. That doesn’t make her any less of an impactful leader, her coaches were quick to explain.

“She’s a huge, huge leader by example. Even if she’s not the one talking the most, if you see how she practices or plays in games, that’s how you want other people to play. I think she’s a really big leader in that respect — she leads by her presence, almost. She was the backbone of the team this year,” Basketball Coach Erin Studivan said.

While Sams certainly enjoys sports, athletics don’t necessarily define her. While speaking to the Community Advocate, Sams repeatedly mentioned one of the main reasons why she enjoys competing: her teammates. In many cases, she has played with the same group of girls her entire life; she called her teammates her “family,” noting how they “made [her] want to come back and get better every day.”

“I’ve found some of my best friends here. Growing up with them through the Westborough system has been amazing. They’re lifelong best friends that have supported me through everything. It feels like a community here. Everyone’s here for each other,” she added.

Sams’ enthusiasm and positivity are often infectious, the coaches stated. When creating the pregame soccer playlist, Sams made an interesting addition — “Vivir Mi Vida,” Marc Anthony’s 2013 Latin pop hit. The song, which roughly translates to “Live My Life,” encourages the audience to laugh and dance.

It became an instant hit with the team.

“If someone asked me to explain Kate as a person, it’s that song,” Moroney said.

“We all knew it was gametime when that song came on. We’d all start dancing during warm-ups. It reminded us that we’re here to have fun too, it’s not so serious,” Sams explained.

Although Sams has had a decorated athletic career, she’d never tell you unless explicitly asked. She has a reputation for being humble. Mike Sams shared that after his daughter made an all-tournament team over the winter, she didn’t mention it to even her closest friends.

“As a parent, you couldn’t be more proud. We see these great things in our daughter all the time. She’s just so quiet and unassuming about the stuff that she does, and I think most people don’t know all that she does. She never asks for it, she never talks about it,” he said.

Westborough three-sport athlete Kate Sams is ‘every coach’s dream’
Kate Sams goes for the lay-up against Hudson. (Photo/Courtesy)

‘We’ll be really proud’

Outside of school and sports, Sams is still busy. She works at Dairy Queen in the center of Westborough, and during the summer, she heads to Cape Cod and works in the food-service industry. In what spare time she has, Sams said she enjoys spending time with family — including siblings Cassidy and Ellie.

After her time at Westborough High School comes to an end, Sams will study nursing in college, bringing her passion, drive, and “huge, huge heart,” her father said, into the healthcare field.

“I think I’d like to make an impact and give back to the world in a way. All my grandparents died before I was born or shortly after, and my parents always talked about how great the nursing staff was for them and how much they supported them during that time. I think I’d like to do that for someone,” said Sams.

The Westborough community knows she will find success.

“I hope she just stays involved. She’s a great teammate. She’s talented. Whatever Kate pours her mind into, she’s going to be happy,” said Moroney.

“We’re going to see her when she comes back from college to visit. She’s going to have a lot of really cool stories wherever she ends up, and we’ll be really proud of the person she becomes,” said Westborough Athletic Director Levi Hanson.

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