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Episode 61: Student Athlete, Sam Gordon is Recognized by Sports Illustrated as One of “Most Powerful and Influential Women in Sports Today”

At just 9-years-old, Sam Gordon attracted the attention of people around the world in a video showing her racing down the football field, scoring touchdown after touchdown in a peewee football game. It was a video that went viral receiving more than 5 million views in just three days.

On this episode of the Supercast, we catch up with Sam Gordon, now a senior at Herriman High School. She talks about being named one of the “Most Powerful and Influential Women in Sports Today” by Sports Illustrated and how she helped create the first Girls Football League in Utah. Find out what’s next for this talented athlete, known as a soccer and football phenom.


Audio Transcription

Superintendent:
Welcome to the Supercast. I'm your host, Superintendent Anthony Godfrey. At just nine years old, Sam Gordon attracted the attention of people around the world in a video, showing her racing down the football field, scoring touchdown after touchdown at her Peewee football game.

Video:
Without walking to the set, one of the newest national celebrities, based on our YouTube video of some amazing football highlights. Her name is Sam Gordon.

Sam:
I scored 35 touchdowns, got around 2000 rushing yards and made 65 tackles.

Video:
Touchdown after touchdown after touchdown, obviously it went viral.

Superintendent:
Receiving more than 5 million views in just three days. On this episode of the Supercast, we catch up with Sam Gordon, now a senior at Herriman High School. She talks about being named one of the most powerful and influential women in sports today by Sports Illustrated, just this month and how she helped create the first Girls Football League in Utah. Find out what's next for this talented athlete, known as a soccer and football phenom. We're here with Sam Gordon student from Herriman high school talking about the fact that she was just recently this month listed in Sports Illustrated as a part of the unrelenting. Now, the way they described this is the list of the most powerful, most influential, and most outstanding women in sports right now. That is really awesome. And we're going to come back to that Sam, but first, I want to talk about where all this started. Thanks for joining me today.

Sam:
Yeah, for sure. It a pleasure to be here.

Superintendent:
I'm going to pull up this highlight. You told me just before the interview that you haven't watched this video for awhile. There was a video that went viral. How viral did it go?

Sam:
It was like 5 million views in three days.

Superintendent:
It was took off. I remember watching it at the time and I don't think I knew at the time that you were a student in Jordan District. It just popped up in my feed because everybody was watching it. Is it all right? Well, so we pulled up the highlights. Are we going to see the run here that went viral?

Sam:
Yeah, so it was off of a kickoff and I got the ball and then it's just a lot of touchdown runs in a row, all compiled together. So that first season was really cool. That was against Luke Staley's team, which was awesome. First year playing football. And we're all a bunch of nine-year-olds that really don't know what we're doing. Just kind of got the ball and got a run.

Superintendent:
You appear to know what you're doing.

Sam:
A little bit of Sharks and Minnows taught me how to do this bit.

Superintendent:
Sharks and Minnows. Is that what the training was?

Sam:
Yeah. Since recesses are great. That was my go-to.

Superintendent:
Sharks and minnows. You heard it here first. That was what made her start. Once you get the ball, it looks like you're pretty relentless, like Sports Illustrated says. You just decide, I'm going to head for the end zone.

Sam:
And then this part of it is making some tackles, which was fun. I honestly kind of like defense better than offense. I think it's really fun to go out there and make a hit.

Superintendent:
So you like making a hit more than scoring?

Sam:
Both are awesome feelings, but sometimes defense has this extra adrenaline that comes with it. And you know, each play you get to talk with your D-line and kinda like make sure that your stopping them. And I think it's definitely very fun.

Superintendent:
Let's talk about all the things that have happened since that video went viral. That was really the start of all of it. And you've had a lot of opportunities as a result of that. Can you tell me some of the things that have happened?

Sam:
So after that YouTube video went viral, I got to go out and do a lot of cool things. My first was an interview with Good Morning America at like 5:00 AM in the morning. And after that, it kind of just took off. I got to go to New York and LA and then back to New York and do a lot of interviews, which was really cool. And then I got involved with the NFL and was able to do a Super Bowl commercial with them and some really cool stuff. And then later, that kind of led me into starting the Girls Soccer Football League and growing that with my dad and some other people I've been with that wanted to start one from the start and then more things at the NFL and interviews. It's kind of just been a lot and, but it's been really great experiences.

Superintendent:
That's amazing in a very short period of time, how old were you when those videos were taken? I was nine years old.

Superintendent:
So you were nine years old. That's a short time to have all of that happen. Who are some of the people that you've met? I was watching the Super Bowl. I didn't know you were going to be in that ad. And I saw that ad. I was amazed at all of the legends who were there altogether in the same place. Tell me some of the people that you've met that have been particularly exciting.

Sam:
So, I play soccer a ton and so I got to meet the US Women's National Team for Soccer, and that was a really cool experience. I got to go to a practice for the 49ers and meet all the team, and that was really cool. They're now my favorite team. Hung out with Roger Goodell and then, you know, for the NFL 100 commercial was hanging out with Saquon Barkley and Richard Sherman for about four hours as we filmed it. So met a lot of cool football players and a lot of cool athletes.

Superintendent:
And you got to attend the Super Bowl, correct?

Sam:
Yeah, I've been to three  Super Bowls, which has been pretty cool.

Superintendent:
I saw you watch the Super Bowl from the booth, if I'm not mistaken.

Sam:
Yeah. The, the first one I went to, I was with Roger in the booth and I remember our booth had security guards and then two booths down was Jay Z and Beyonce and they didn't have any. And I thought that was really funny.

Superintendent:
I've gone to barbecues with Jay Z and Beyonce, but never a football game. No, that's really exciting that you've been able to to be involved at that level. How was the Super Bowl different from other games, in terms of being a spectator at the event?

Sam:
The entire energy is just different. It's like the athletic event of the year, everybody's tuning into watch it. Especially the first one, the 49ers were in it and to see your team in the Super Bowl is something totally different. The atmosphere, the halftime concert, all of it is just, it's incredible.

Superintendent:
You talked about being on Good Morning America. They actually surprised you with something on that show. Tell everyone what that was.

Sam:
Yeah. So I think it was my second time being on Good Morning America.  I was in New York and they had this little box that was underneath a curtain and then they pulled it away and I was being held up, and then there was a Wheaties box with my face on it. That was such a cool thing for a little nine year old me to see.

Superintendent:
How many boxes of Wheaties with Sam Gordon on the front do you have? I would have a case of them, I think.

Sam:
I think I've got one. My grandma's got one and I'm not sure where the other ones went, but we definitely have a bunch of flat copies of the Wheaties posters.

Superintendent:
That's pretty amazing. Is Wheaties now your favorite cereal?

Sam:
It has been for a long time. What is your favorite?

Superintendent:
Favorite cereal?  Captain Crunch. Wheaties, it's been a long time, but maybe I need to revisit that. Were you playing soccer the whole time that you were playing football as well?

Sam:
Yeah, so soccer has always been a big thing for me and I want to play it in college. And football is something different because of the adrenaline and it's just an entire different sport, but I love them both.

Superintendent:
So what's next for you? You've a senior at Herriman High School. Where do you hope to go to school? What do you hope to play? What's next?

Sam:
So I submitted my early decision application to Columbia, so we'll see how that goes. And then hoping to go walk onto the soccer team up there, be in New York. My older brother's at NYU, so that'd be cool. Go to law school. I don't really know it's kind of up in there, but hopefully I'm pursuing girls tackle football and promoting that.

Superintendent:
Great. Now let's talk about the Sports Illustrated list. This is a very prestigious list. And as I described earlier, most powerful, most influential and most outstanding women in sports. Now to make that list is a great honor.

Sam:
Yeah, it's amazing reading some of the other women that I'm listed there with, and being a part of that is it's really a great,

Superintendent:
Great thing. I noticed that Serina Williams, Billie Jean King, Naomi Osaka, I'm a big tennis fan. Wife's been a tennis player since she was eight. But you're on a list with some amazing athletes there. Who are the athletes that inspire you?

Sam:
I think a big one for me was Abby Wamback. She was the player that invited me out to a practice when I got to meet the US Women's National Team. And the fight that she's had for quality for women in soccer, in the soccer world, and then along with just her toughness out on the field and as a soccer player. Watching her getting knocked down and getting back up was always an inspiration to me.

Superintendent:
I also wanted to ask you, I saw that you, after going viral, ended up being a speaker at a lot of distinguished events throughout the country. What are some of the themes that you talk about in those presentations?

Sam:
So when I was younger, a lot of it was just about me playing football with the boys and kind of my experience doing that, and my love for football and sports in general as I've gotten older. I kind of get a little bit more of a perspective on things and I can kind of see the inequality. And a little bit of what I've experienced and what we're still facing as far as the football world and getting women involved. I've got to speak a lot about that and then the challenges. And also just about girls loving football, being part of the girls' tackle football league and giving girls the soccer opportunity to play a sport that they really don't have a chance to anywhere else in the world. It's something special to be a part of, and so I've got to speak on that a lot too.

Superintendent:
So you have a lot of frequent flyer miles.

Sam:
Yes. built up my Sky miles.

Superintendent:
Wow. How has being involved in sports impacted your life and going viral and having these opportunities? How has that changed?

Sam:
I think sports have changed everything for me. Even if you don't become famous, I think sports in general are so great for kids. Building leadership and making friends and everything like that, all the great qualities that sports can give us. And then, I think being involved in all these other things. When I go to those events and I get to speak, I also get to hear other speakers and it's been really inspiring to hear other people's stories and you really get perspective on a lot of the things in the world. And also the fact that you can make a difference. And so by having this goal of wanting to give more girls the opportunity to play football and then starting this league and seeing it actually make a difference has been inspiring. And I really take that into my own life and tell other people, if you have something that you really believe in, work for it and it can happen.

Superintendent:
Stay with us. When we come back, we'll be joined by one of Sam Gordon's Girls Football League teammates.

Stacee Worthen:
Hello, I'm Stacee Worthen, Secondary Counseling Specialist for Jordan School District. Do you know all the ways our school district counselors can help you and your student school counselors play such an important role in our schools, they provide parents with resources to help guide their children in academics. They provide support with the mental and social wellbeing of students in our school. And if you were in the process of preparing a student for college, or just beginning, the conversation of higher education now is the perfect time to reach out to your child's counselor. We can assist with college applications and college readiness. I encourage parents and guardians to schedule an appointment and get to know your student's counselor together. Counselors and parents can help develop plans and strategies for students to succeed long after they leave during the school district. Reach out. We're always here to help. You can find us and learn more at counseling.jordandistrict.org.

Superintendent:
All right, we're back now with Sam Gordon and she's now joined by Molly DeLuca. Molly, thanks for joining us and being here. Tell me about your involvement in football.

Molly:
So I started playing football and I was about 12 years old. I was in seventh grade and I played soccer before and I needed to do something new. I  just wasn't happy playing soccer. It just wasn't my sport. And I joined on the Black Diamonds Team with Sam and ever since then, I've been playing every single year since seventh grade. And it's just been one of the biggest blessings in my life.  I've made so many friends and I've learned so much from it.

Superintendent:
So what do you like about football versus soccer?

Molly:
I guess it's a way to get my stress out. And I love hitting with all the pads. I dunno, it's just a good experience catching the ball and running, feeling like you did something like soccer. I never really got to feel that accomplishment, but with football, I do. I also met so many friends and it's just a great experience.

Superintendent:
I saw that you nodded your head when Sam was talking about loving defense. Do you prefer defense over offense because you get to knock some people around?

Molly:
Yes I do. I usually don't play the position to receive the ball and score, even though I still love offense. But defense, I like hitting people and like stopping them. It's a lot better in my opinion.

Superintendent:
What made you want to start football?

Molly:
Like I said before, soccer wasn't doing it for me. I was in fourth grade with Sam and when I saw that she was starting this new team, I thought that would be actually really fun to do. And it fit my body type, my social needs, everything. I was just like, yeah, let's try football. And I ended up loving it and I've keep playing every single year.

Superintendent:
Are you a senior at Herriman?

Molly:
I am. Yeah.

Superintendent:
So what's next for you? What are your plans?

Molly:
I'm planning on going to SEU. I'm not sure what I want to go into yet, but I kind of want to get away and start school somewhere a little farther than this area.

Superintendent:
For those who may not know what the rules are and how your football league is set, are the rules different from traditional football rules?

Molly:
Yeah, so we have a couple of different rules than traditional football. The biggest one is that we took out kickoffs and punt returns, mainly because that's where most injuries occur. And we really are trying to take out injuries as much as possible on our league. So we have just taken those plays out completely. The second one that we've done is we have an X weight basically. So girls over a certain weight limit can't be handed off the ball. They can still go out as a receiver, but they can't be handed off, mainly because we're still at a point where a lot of girls haven't played before. And so setting competition up against somebody who might be twice their size would be again, another risk for injury. So for right now, that's a rule we're hoping in the future we can take that away.

Superintendent:
What's your favorite secret play Molly that nobody knows about?

Molly:
I remember a few years ago we would we call it an orange wedge and we would all stand up straight and not even move and be really cool. We have a no play where we just stand up and pretend like we're running the ball, but we wouldn't. It threw off the other players a lot, and it was so fun.

Superintendent:
I'm wondering how I can integrate that into my daily set of plays. The orange wedge. Tell me that again. So that's when everybody stands up.

Molly:
Yeah. We make our U shaped, kind of like orange wise, like it says, and we kind of just block in the shape of an orange. It would just like throw the other team off beause we didn't have a specific hold to go through. it just pushed up yards, I guess. And it was actually really cool. And we scored a lot on that play.

Superintendent:
Have you seen some big turnarounds where someone was maybe reluctant at first and then wildly enthusiastic about the game, once they kind of had a chance to apply?

Molly:
I have definitely seen that. But you get a lot of girls that come out their first season and don't really know what they're doing and then did stayed in the league forever. I think a lot of girls gain confidence throughout the year in football. We have such a great community and we have people from a lot of different backgrounds, other sports, where you don't really get that same opportunity. And so I think when girls come out and they learn how to hit and they learn how to have fun. And it's a life changing experience for some of them. I feel like girls are also scared of getting hurt because it's a physical demanding sport. But once they learned to play, it's just like any other sport. There's physical demands in literally anything you play, but it's just a lot. It's really fun and they learn to love it.

Superintendent:
Thanks to both of you for coming to be interviewed for the Supercast. I really appreciate meeting both of you and best of luck in your future pursuit to post-graduation.

Sam and Molly:
Thank you.

Superintendent:
Thanks for joining us for another episode of the Supercast. Remember, education is the most important thing you will do today. We'll see you out there.

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