Sheri Sam: Preparing For The Game

�Super Sam, she�s out.�

One of the Charlotte Sting�s new faces has brought with her not only basketball skills, talent and determination, but also a number of superstitions and unusual routines.

Sheri Sam signed with Charlotte as a free agent February 14, 2005. This is the fourth team that Sam has been a part of since 1999 and along her way she has come up with a few �must haves� and �must dos� before each game.

The Sting begins each game day with a morning shoot around to loosen up, get some shots in and go over scouting reports. Shoot arounds are closed to the public entirely and closed to the media until the last 15 minutes.

Little do fans know that Sam�s gameday routine also starts here.

During the shoot around, Sam will often wear her practice jersey around her neck as a superman cape.

�Super Sam, she�s out. She�s at shoot around, she�s just out there flying around,� said Sam. �I always put my jersey around my neck in case coach tells us to go switch up (on defense). I just enjoy wearing it like that.�

The routine doesn�t stop there, however. A popular question among fans is �what do athletes enjoy eating before their games and why?� Sam�s pre-game meal superstition came about when Sam played for the Miami Sol back in 2000.

�I had a turkey sub from Subway before one of my games. I had a career high, so I�ve been eating them ever since,� stated Sam. �Just have to have the Subway.�

Closer to game time fans can find Sam in the locker room listening to different types of music. Depending on her mood, you can find different genres of music in her CD player.

�Well, I listen to everything. Depends on how I�m feeling that day,� she said. �If I�m pretty worked up, I�ll listen to something mellow like Angie Stone or Anthony Hamilton. But if I need to get going, I�ll listen to a little bit of hip-hop to get my head right.�

Following her locker room music, Sam heads to the court. If fans are able to attend the game before tip-off they can see that Sheri Sam is always the first player out to shoot.

�It�s something that I�ve always done my whole career. It�s a big pet peeve of mine; I hate it when other balls are hitting mine. So I have to get out early to see and feel where my shots are at and with no distractions,� says Sheri.

Now for the headband� Many players wear one to keep sweat off their brow. But, do you think that�s why Sam wears hers?

Fans can watch the headband change places throughout the game. The crowd can find it around her head, neck or off completely.

�I�ve always worn one since college. It switches positions depending on my mood,� said Sam. �This is �things are going good� (on her head); this is �I�m frustrated� (around her neck); this is �I�m mad� (when she takes it off completely).�

�Sometimes during the game it will irritate me on my head and I�ll put it around my neck. But now I have to start keeping on my head.�

Even though the headband is interesting enough on its own, what most fans don�t realize is that Sam is left-handed but plays basketball right-handed. This is not a superstition, but something she is unable to fully explain.

�When I was younger and played softball, I always batted with both hands, but I write left-handed and do pretty much everything left-handed,� explained Sam. �For some reason I�ve just always played basketball right-handed. I don�t know, just feels right.�

Fans may be tempted to add Sam�s white leggings to the list of superstitions, but they are there to increase the circulation in her legs.

Even though all of her current routines and superstitions stir up interest, there is one superstition that has since passed, but one day may come back.

As many know, all through her college career and the early part of her WNBA career, Sam wore a pair of Vanderbilt basketball shorts under her uniform. Unfortunately, this superstition has come to an end because the elastic band has worn out.

�I�m working on getting another pair but they don�t make the elastic ones anymore,� said Sam. �I got that pair on my recruiting trip to Vanderbilt, but since the band wore out, I haven�t worn a pair in over a year.�

The Vanderbilt degree that Sam earned is one of her most unforgettable and proudest moments of her life. Being the youngest of eight, and coming from a single parent family, Sam was the first in her family to graduate from college.

�The whole situation that I grew up in really taught me to be humble and work hard. It�s also taught me to never take anything for granted and to embrace life,� said Sam. �I learned that you have to work for everything you have. My Mom raised all eight of us on her own and she had to work everyday, sometimes 15 or 16 hours a day. It just instilled a work ethic in me since she had to work so hard and sacrifice so much to make sure that we had food on the table.�

Sam�s mother has had a very large influence in her life, and has become Sheri Sam�s all-time �Shero.�

�My mother has taught me unconditional love for everything I do. Growing up she was so supportive of all of us and would do anything to make sure we had the shoes we needed for all the sports we played,� Sam remarked. �Even today she still comes to the games and is so proud of what I have become.�

Sheri Sam has been influenced by many different things throughout her life, whether it was her family, teammates, or just a friend, she has always believed in self-expression.

She enjoys writing and reading poetry, but also designing and personalizing tattoos. Sam currently has nine tattoos and has hand-designed all but one of them - the exception is her very own WNBA player card image tattooed on her right ankle from when she played for the Miami Sol.

�I like to take my time and design them. When I get a good idea, some people put it on paper. I like to put it on my body,� she said. �It�s something that shows expression, they all represent a part of me and who I am.�

Throughout Sam�s career, she has been able to shape her own organization called Club 55. Sheri Sam�s jersey number for the Miami Sol was 55, so she used this number as an inspiration to help local inner-city children.

�This charity was where I had the chance to work with inner-city kids,� said Sheri. �Each game we would sponsor 55 of these children and bring them in for pizza before each game. Then I would go in and speak to them and hand out t-shirts.�

Since her days in Miami, she has done her best to try and bring back Club 55, but has been unsuccessful so far.

�Now that I know I have three years here with the Charlotte Sting, I�m really hoping to get that started back up,� said Sam. �It�s something that means a lot to me, just knowing I can give back to the community.�

Sam has become such an influential player both on and off the court, and has plans to reach out and support her new community. Hopefully, with her time here in Charlotte, people will have more opportunities to get to know �Super Sam,� and maybe even understand a few of the superstitions she has on display here with the Charlotte Sting.

By: Brittany Bennefield,