While Eastern’s football team is known for its excellence in special teams (re: Jordan Berry), Coach Elder might want to start scouting a new star recruit for special teams—and fortunately for him, he does not have to travel far.
Freshman Sam Eastes arrived on EKU’s campus in hopes of making a difference in first-year Head Coach Nick Flohre’s newly remodeled soccer program. The 5’7 forward from Carmel, Indiana, was a star in both high school and club soccer play, making her a highly touted soccer star, but it was what she did on Friday nights that garnered special attention.
Soccer has always been Eastes’ favorite—and best—sport, she said. Since childhood, Eastes has competed in a plethora of sports, but she always excelled on the soccer field.
During her junior year at Carmel High School, Eastes led the team in scoring, guiding the Greyhounds to the State Championship where they would eventually finish as runner-ups.
In that same year, Eastes won the Indiana State Cup Championship with the Zionsville Youth Soccer Association—the first of two consecutive championships with the club.
An elite player at both levels, Eastes was even invited to play in the Indiana Olympic Developmental Program, a program from which internationally known players begin training, from 2010-2014.
But just because soccer was her best sport, did not mean Eastes had zero time for other extra-curriculars. Just one day after putting her shin guards on to play a district rival, Eastes would change into a helmet and pads, ready to play under the Friday night lights.
“I guess soccer was always my favorite, but I really love football—so it’s close,” Eastes said.
Following in the footsteps of many male soccer players, Eastes decided to take the plunge and kick for her eighth grade football team. Because football is often a majority, if not an exclusively male sport, Eastes’ place in the locker room took some getting used to.
As the only girl on the team, Eastes said it was a little awkward at first. Over time, however, she said the other players saw how good she was and accepted her as another member of the team. The bond Eastes formed with the other players was undeniable.
Eastes continued her career for the 7-time State Champions Carmel High, kicking for the freshman, junior varsity and varsity teams.
Her junior year, Eastes received the chance of a lifetime. The Greyhounds had reached the state finals in Lucas Oil Stadium (home of the Indianapolis Colts), when she was called on for an extra point.
“During the state final, I got to kick an extra point in Lucas Oil Stadium and it almost got blocked,” Eastes said. “I was late and it went right under the defender—I was lucky to get it off.”
Poised for a starting and captain position, Eastes’ career was unfortunately cut short before her senior year.
“Over the summer, I tore my ACL,” Eastes said. “It took me out of being the starter and being a captain.”
While Eastes said her ACL is fine aside from some irritation every now and then, she said she wishes she could have continued to play her senior year.
Though her football career may be over, Eastes said she is happy that she chose to come to EKU and excited about her future.
“I obviously came for soccer, but I wanted to be in elementary education and once I learned more about that program, I really liked it,” Eastes said. “So between the coaches, the school and the players, it was where I really wanted to be.”
As a Colonel, Eastes has had playing time in all games as she tries to find her place on an already improving team.
Balancing soccer with an intense elementary education course schedule can be difficult at times, but Eastes said she is happy to be at EKU and excited for her classes and her career.
If Coach Elder, or anyone else, would like to see Sam Eastes’ kicking capabilities, the next EKU Soccer home game will be on Sept. 11 at 1 p.m. against Western Carolina University.