The soon to be PhD holder is a sport scientist by trade, but counts his career in volleyball as a pretty decent way to spend his days:
“I started playing volleyball when I was 12, back at my high school in Perth, when my older brother started... really it was a case of just doing anything my older brother did. I transitioned to full-time beach around 2014 because the lifestyle is so much better. It's hard to have a bad day of play when the worst outcome is just a day at the beach.”
Sam quickly fell in love with the sport and was soon dominating in Western Australia. By the age of 18, Sam had already won the WA Open and puts this particular tournament win down as a career highlight. However, believe us - the way Sam tells it, it is far more interesting than we could describe:
“I was 18, I had a big chip on my shoulder and I was playing with an older guy who was feeding me motivation about playing like the old school guys. I loved it. We wore ridiculous 90s prints on our shorts, I had a bandanna - we stood on court at the baseline during timeouts pretending we didn't need the shade or cold water. Probably a bit arrogant - it was 42 degrees during the final and we went down a heap of match points but came back to win. First time with a novelty cheque!”
Perhaps it was these early formative years under the hot sun that spurred Sam on to think differently about sunscreen when playing, explaining he thinks about sun safety a lot more these days:
“My grandfather had seven brothers, all of whom have had skin cancer. My older brother just had a pretty large chunk taken out.I used to be a bit careless, but I'm now reminded daily by my girlfriend about being smart. There's only so many times your lips can peel and heal without damage to your DNA coding.”
This change in attitude is something we take super seriously at BEACHFOX and Sam is most definitely on the same page as all of us here at BEACHFOX HQ - “Probably better to lose a few points than a few years off your life...”
With that in mind, Sam now sports what he likes to call a ‘Shane Warne’ style “lip and nose zinc” combination, as well as making BEACHFOX SPF50+ Vanilla his partner in crime when playing in the Northern Beaches Volleyball Association competition this spring and summer at ManlyBeach: “Vanilla is pretty tasty, wouldn't recommend eating it...”. We agree on that one - keep it for your skin and stay safe under the Australian sun!
So what does Sam suggest for younger players looking to strive in the sport?
“Play as much as you can, with as many people as you can and try to understand why each one of them says and does the things they do.”
At the end of the day, Sam asserts “Winning is great but the experiences around the tournaments with friends can be just as valuable.” Be sure to keep an eye out for Sam across NBVA Instagram page - we know he is in for many more milestone moments, both on the beach, and as he finishes up his PhD!