Dec. 1, 2006
TheACC.com introduces you to the league's
athletes, coaches and administrators each week.
Year: Red Shirt Sophomore
Football - Place Kicker and Punter
Hometown: Jacksonville Beach, FL
Favorite flavor ice cream: Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough
Sam Swank is the only kicker in America with 5 field goals from beyond 50 yards. He was a Lou Groza and Ray Guy semifinalist this year. He is also an All-American candidate. In the Wake Forest record book, he is first in field goal percentage and first with 61 straight PATs.
Swank is originally from Jacksonville Beach FL, and will be returning home for the Championship game.
How did you get started playing football?
It all began actually through the soccer field. My head soccer coach who also happened to be one of the assistant football coaches, asked me to come out and try kicking for a little while because they were without a kicker and he knew what I could do on the soccer field. Hopefully I could make the transition and put forth a good football effort.
What was your transition from soccer to football like?
I transitioned from soccer to football my freshman year in high school, that's definitely when I started kicking. It was kind of a hard transition for me because soccer was everything to me, it was my life, it was all I knew and making such an extreme leap to a different sport was a very hard decision for me. But looking back now, I'm very happy with the decision I made.
What has been your greatest accomplishment so far as an athlete?
You succeed in so many ways and make so many accomplishments daily, but I would have to say the NC State game. And hitting all those long field goals which ultimately propelled the team to a win I would have to say was my greatest accomplishment because I felt the best afterwards.
What do you still hope to accomplish in the future?
Never to lay down, always to keep working and strive for better things. You're never satisfied as an athlete and that's what really drives you in training and in games, that's what you keep in mind. You've work so hard for this that you're not going to fail. I guess the goals you put forth yourself. One day I would love to go to the next level and perform well there, and that's something that you always keep in mind that drives you and hopefully one day maybe that'll come true.
Who was your most influential role model?
My parents are very influential in my life. They've instilled the qualities that I have today and I'm very grateful for what they had to offer, through growing up. I think I just grew up into a very mature young man, and I'm very grateful because of that.
What was the best advice you ever received from a coach?
Well being a kicker, its kind of an up and down kind of thing. People really only notice you when you're doing your job wrong. But probably the best advice I have received is to keep your head up and don't dwell on the past and with my position that holds true every kick, if something goes bad, you just keep progressing on because bigger and better things are on the horizon.
What's your most memorable moment in sports?
I would have to go back to the NC State game. It was just one of the greatest feelings and I really just felt on top of my game. I think every athlete has a couple games where nothing goes wrong and just everything goes their way and I think that's what everyone strives for. So I would have to say the NC State game this year.
Wake Forest hasn't won an ACC title since 1970. What does it mean to you to be playing in this game?
Well every year our team, as a whole, we set goals for each other and ourselves and the ACC Championship is one goal we put on the list every year. And accomplishing that feat is just immense. As a team, we strive for that, I'm sure well before my years here. Actually being able to get there and hopefully take the "W" home is just fabulous. It's a great feeling, not only just for us, but for everyone involved in the Wake Forest community because without them, we wouldn't be where we are as a team.
How does your versatility help you as a player?
I just go out there everyday and give it my all, and try to put forth all my abilities that I have everyday. I never thought of myself as a really good punter. I mean, I did some in high school, but that it something that I've really tried to develop this season. And, kicking, you just practice practice, practice and perform well in games because of that. And the versatility is just a direct result in all the hours and repetition in kicking.
Why did you choose Wake Forest?
I chose Wake Forest, honestly, because they were the only one that would offer me a full scholarship. Obviously I knew they had great academics and that I would get a great degree and that was huge factor in me coming here. But, I mean, I never followed the team, I'm from Florida, so I never really followed teams outside that state, none-the-less Wake Forest. Being here now, I'm very, very happy with my choice and I would have to say that wake's reputation got me here.