Sam Hartman – talented fisherman or elite quarterback? Both, believe it or not. Living near Lake Norman is a huge convenience for Sam; it enables him to spend majority of his time (not already dedicated to football or academics) in a place he feels content and comfortable. Even though he is a natural fisherman, he never allows it to supersede football.
Sam’s family introduced him to football at six years old. The beginning of his career was not what you would expect of one of the most talented quarterbacks in the nation. He did not spend every free second playing, nor did he anxiously await the next practice or game.
Instead, he spent a lot of time in the bathroom – crying while wrapped in the fetal position – attempting to hide from his mom (who chauffeured him to practice) and any thought of football. Do not worry though, Sam assures that is no longer the case.
In the decade since then, Sam has developed as an athlete. He no longer simply enjoys playing football; today, he dedicates most of his life to it. Yes, football forced him to make sacrifices over the years – missed vacations and lake days – but he never second-guessed those choices. Every Friday when he takes the field, he is reminded why he willingly surrenders his free time.
During sophomore year, Sam earned the starting quarterback spot at Davidson Day School. In no time, he dismissed any doubt about whether or not the new player on campus could lead the team to an exciting season.
In 2015, his first year as the starter, Sam led Davidson Day to an undefeated season. Excitement spread throughout the entire community because their team – the Patriots – was headed to the state championship.
Two days before the big game, life took an unexpected turn when Sam received word that his adopted brother, Demitri Allison, took his own life. The mental agony and emotional strain that ensued was almost unbearable. However, there was no time to wallow in emotions; game day was a mere 48 hours away.
Instead of letting the sadness take over his mind, he used it as a motivator. This game would be the most important of his life; now, he was not only playing for his teammates, but also in honor of his brother.
On November 13, 2015, the team travelled to Charlotte Christian School to take on Charlotte Latin School. Sam ran onto the field – wearing a jersey with his new number, 10, in honor of Demirti – and looked around at his teammates: time to leave it all on the field.
After a long-fought four quarters, Davidson Day ended the night by lifting the coveted trophy. They defeated the Hawks, 31-13.
“Watching all of the hard work we put in pay off was a great feeling,” he says, recalling the 12-0 season.
Looking back, Sam remembers the night as one of the most special and memorable thus far. His team won, and Sam knows his brother smiled as he watched the entire game from above.
The stellar season and championship victory helped his ranking tremendously. Shortly after, he ranked as the best quarterback in North Carolina and sixteenth among pro-style quarterbacks in the country.
Even with increased attention from coaches, Sam experienced a rather easy-going recruitment. Before junior year began, he received an offer from a school with everything he wanted – great coaching staff and campus, along with bountiful opportunities for life after college – and made the decision to commit. On July 7, 2016, Sam officially became a 2018 Wake Forest commit.
He is locked-down in his decision and refuses communication with any other program – Sam is set on becoming a Demon Deacon in January 2018.
With the perfect season behind him, Sam was more determined than ever to repeat the results and enjoy a back-to-back state champion title. However, last July, life threw another challenge his way. With less than a month until the first game, Sam should have been preparing for the upcoming season, but instead was in the hospital recovering from surgery.
For some time, he endured pain in his shoulder and neck. Once the pain became unbearable, his family reached out to doctors for a diagnosis. They soon learned that Sam was born with a hole in his thyroid gland, and overtime it grew to create a baseball-sized infection in his neck, which allowed bacteria to travel to his shoulder and affect the mobility of his left arm.
With the star quarterback hospitalized – and down nearly thirty pounds – the future of the team seemed uncertain. Outsiders began to question his return and the stability of his body.
While people doubted his future, Sam never let his thoughts turn negative. Playing in the first game of the season was at the top of his priority list.
When asked how he managed to recover from surgery and not miss a football game, Sam replied, “A lot of prayer and push-ups…couldn’t have done it without the man upstairs.”
In the first game of the season, Sam threw for 493 yards. Fans could not help but smile: their quarterback was back.
Over the next ten games, Sam threw for over 3,000 yards and 45 touchdowns with only six interceptions. He averaged upwards of 300 passing yards every game.
Once again, the Patriots made it to the playoffs. But, this time they lost by one point to Charlotte Christian.
The close loss was the motivation Sam needed. He knew both feelings of winning it all and losing in the playoffs, and preferred the former. Never again did he want to experience the devastation of coming close, yet falling short.
He began to watch film from the prior season to analyze his game, perfecting his strengths and improving on his weaknesses. Last winter, though, Sam’s once clear future suddenly turned blurry.
Davidson Day’s head coach, Chad Grier, announced his unexpected retirement from the Patriot football team in December. Over the course of two years playing under him, Sam developed a strong bond with his coach and trusted his ability to prepare him for the next level more than anyone else.
Panic spread as all of the players scrambled to find high schools to transfer to in order to continue playing football. At the beginning of second semester, Sam found an interim home at Hough High School.
While he looked forward to being a Husky, soon, Sam felt himself being called elsewhere.
Upon learning that Coach Grier accepted a position as the head football coach at Oceanside Collegiate Academy, a small boarding school in Charleston, South Carolina, Sam faced a tough decision – stay close to home and play for the nearby public school or move to Charleston and continue playing for his coach.
Coach Grier is one of the best coaches in the nation at developing quarterbacks. He is the father of Will Grier –a top recruit in 2014 and current West Virginia quarterback – and also accepted an invitation to assist in coaching at the Army All American game. Before long, Sam made up his mind – it is in the best interest of his future to transfer again.
“My mom and I are moving down together. I love to go fishing and be at the beach, so Charleston is perfect for me,” he says, before adding that he is “very excited for a new chapter.”
At Oceanside, Sam plans to carry on the motto that brought him much success already: outwork everyone and enjoy the game. With college less than nine months away, he plans to work on his leadership abilities and become an even better teammate. He continues to strive to live in a way that sets a good example for the next generation.
Football fans in North Carolina already know who Sam is, and now it is time for him to cross the border and show South Carolinians what he is made of. Sam Hartman is taking over the Carolinas, one football field at a time.
Sam’s Advice: If you are lacking in any sort of confidence, just know that you are made perfectly in His image and if that doesn’t give you confidence than I don’t know what else will