Sam Sandler, a senior at West Hartford’s Hall High School, plans to run track in college but may also pursue playing soccer.
By Ronni Newton
Hall senior Sam Sandler competes at the highest level in track as well as in soccer, and on Thursday he signed a letter of intent to run at Southern Connecticut State College, but said he may also pursue playing soccer in the Division II program.
Family, friends, and coaches attended the letter of intent ceremony.
Zeke Seguro, Hall’s head soccer coach, said Sandler “definitely played a huge role in all our success.”
Seguro first met Sandler when he was about 8, at a camp at the JCC, and immediately recognized that he was a special player. Sandler joined the Hall team as a junior, after playing two seasons with the Oakwood Academy team, and during his two seasons on the high school team Hall was the runner up in Class LL this season, and in 2021 lost in the quarterfinals of the Class LL tournament to eventual champion Farmington.
Known for his speed, Sandler had 21 goals and 25 assists for the Hall team this year – among the top seven in total points over the past 29 years, Seguro said. He earned All-Conference for two years, and All-State and All-New England honors this year, and came close to earning All-American status.
“There is no doubt he will be able to make an immediate impact at Southern,” Seguro said, if he does choose to play soccer. “With his soccer skills, he could definitely play for a mid-tier Division I team.”
“I don’t think it’s an exaggeration to say that Sam sort of redefined what all the coaches thought was possible as a high school track athlete and really changed the standard for what fellow athletes think they can do,” track coach Scott Sampietro said.
He thought Hall’s record in the 400 of 50.24 – set in 2006 – would be tough to ever break. “And then to have Sam come in and just shatter that, beyond what anyone thought was possible except perhaps for him,” he said of Sandler’s time of 47.93 at the New England outdoor track and field championship last June. He then ran a relay split even faster than that, Sampietro said. “It changed my perspective as a coach.”
Sandler is not only a fantastic athlete, Sampietro said, “he is a joy to be around.” He knows how to have fun, and Sampietro said he got a pit in his stomach when Sandler came out to the track on crutches with a boot on his foot last spring – before realizing it was April Fool’s Day.
“Southern is a fantastic program and they are going to be very lucky to have you,” Sampietro said.
Sandler said he has always loved track, and started running competitively as an 11-year-old. But he loves playing soccer, too, and is glad he made the decision to switch from the Oakwood Academy team to play with his high school friends – as well as his twin brother, Aaron.
He’s excited about the opportunity that awaits him in college, and will also be running for Hall during the upcoming indoor and outdoor track seasons.
Athletic Director Jason Siegal said he appreciates holding letter of intent signing ceremonies. “It highlights the best of the best student athletes,” he said. Sandler’s plans to run track and possibly play soccer at Southern “is a testament to the hard work you’ve put in over the years, all the support you’ve had from family, teammates, and coaches, and everyone that cares about you.”
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