DICKINSON – What she thought was the worst time in her life turned out to be the best thing that could have ever happened to her.
This is what Dickinson High School senior Samantha Snelson said just after being named the Women’s Track and Field Scholar Athlete of The Year at the Touchdown Club of Houston’s annual awards dinner Wednesday night.
“I really didn’t expect this,” Snelson said with a huge smile on her face. “It is a huge honor, and I am very blessed to receive it. Everyone here was very worthy of this, and I am just glad they saw something different in me.”
At the peak of her high school career, Snelson’s father, John Snelson, who coached the majority of his career in Pasadena, moved his family to Dickinson in 2012 after accepting the position of head football coach and athletic director. With her older brother, Bo, and sister, Clare, already graduated from Pasadena Memorial and off at college, Sammi, as she is known by her Dickinson High School classmates, was going to be a junior and didn’t take the move well.
“It was the hardest thing I have ever done,” Sammi said. “It was the worst thing in my life. All my friends were in Pasadena. I had it easy there. The teachers and coaches knew me and knew what I could do. I didn’t know anyone in Dickinson. I was going to have to make new friends and prove myself on the track again. I was hurt.”
It turned out to be a blessing in disguise. She said she was pushed harder than she had ever been pushed by, not only her teachers, but her track coaches. Something that was once was a breeze turned into more work and longer hours than ever expected.
In turn, it gave Sammi the opportunity of a lifetime. She has been accepted into the track program at the United States Military Academy at West Point.
“I am very proud of Sammi Jo,” John said. “She has worked hard both on and off the track but the thing that I am most proud of is her character and her faith. Her moral compass and positive outlook on life inspire me.”
Sammi said she chose the military because she watched her brother in the Naval Academy and it just struck something in her that never left.
“I watched Bo in the Naval Academy and it just gave me chills at what he was doing and learning there,” she said. “I just knew the military was something I wanted to do. I am so thankful for Dickinson High School and my coaches and teachers here who didn’t let me coast. They made me work harder than I ever have. That is why DHS was the best thing that ever happened to me.”
Sammi was a sprinter and hurdler all four years of high school.
As a senior, she advanced to regionals and finished fourth.
She also ran the 4x100-meter and 4x400-meter relays at the Texas Relays in Austin.
“I am so thankful to my coaches for pushing me like they did,” Sammi said. “I would have never made it to West Point without it. There were so many days this winter that it was so cold outside and coach (Marvin) Welch made me get out there and run. I was so cold, and I wanted to stop and go in, but he wouldn’t let me quit. I would have never done that on my own. He believed in me and pushed me when I was tired and wanted to quit.”
Academically, Sammi ranks 27th out of a class of 470 and holds a GPA of 4.083.
She scored a 1680 on the SAT and 24 on the ACT. She has been in the National Honor Society all four years and on the Senior Class Advisory Committee.
Her core classes have included dual credit and advanced placement.
Sammi will graduate with two more math classes than are required by the state.
She has tutored underclassmen at Dickinson in math and volunteered to help summer school students study for state testing.
She has also been a member of the Science Club, Chess Club and Spanish Club.