Q&A With Soccer Assistant Coach Sammy Towne
What attracted you to UNCG?
UNCG has a beautiful campus and it reminded me of Auburn, which is where I did my undergrad. I had an amazing experience there and I look forward to having the same enjoyable experience here. When I first came to UNCG, I was extremely attracted to the competitive atmosphere both in the classroom and in athletics.
You have known head coach Steve Nugent previously as a coach on the club level. How was it playing for him and how will that experience help now coaching with him?
I am very fortunate for the experience I had with Steve as a youth player. He was in charge of the club I played for and even coached my team on and off for a few years. He did an incredible job creating a competitive environment throughout the club that replicated the level of play at a Division I university. This environment really educated players on whether or not they would like to further their soccer careers. Steve is extremely intense and he expects nothing but the best from his players. I know he carries that passion with him here at UNCG, and I look forward to being on the other side of the sideline with him this fall season.
How will your playing career at Auburn and the success you had there help you at UNCG?
I was very fortunate to have a successful career and experience at Auburn. I collected several accolades on and off the field that I believe have attributed to the individual I am today. The SEC is one of the hardest conferences to compete in throughout the country. That being said, I learned what it takes to be successful. We qualified for the NCAA tournament all four years, and we won a SEC Championship the year I was a student assistant. I worked with three amazing coaches that did their best to educate and provide a learning environment for their entire staff. I hope to bring the knowledge I gained over the past five years here to UNCG and help lead this program to a successful season.
Talk about all of the adversity/injuries you had to play through during your career and how that experience has shaped you as a person.
I could write a novel about the injuries I obtained at Auburn. One consisted of four broken bones in my left arm that I acquired in a game against UNC Chapel Hill off a shot. I had my lung collapse two times and had to have complete lung reconstructive surgery missing my entire junior spring. The major issue I dealt with throughout my entire career was compartment syndrome in both calves. It was a factor that negatively impacted my practice schedule and even potential game times. My coaches and trainers were extremely flexible throughout all four years. The relationship we had between all three was vital to my success as a student-athlete. Since I was limited to practice time but played in games, I had a very delicate relationship with my teammates. I learned that I had to be very professional regarding my situation and that I had to be aware of how my teammate portrayed my work ethic. I had to prove to them that I would put in extra effort in other activities if I could not always do it on the practice field.
Have you always wanted to go into coaching after your playing career?
I have always considered staying involved in athletics as a potential career choice. When my senior season ended, I decided to become a student assistant coach. It was then that I realized I was still very emotionally invested in the sport and wanted to pursue a career in coaching.
How is the transition going from student-athlete to coach?
The transition has gone rather smoothly from being a player to a coach. The hardest situations I faced at Auburn were the fact that I became a coach but was still surrounded by my closest friends. So I had to learn rather quickly how to carry myself around the coaches and the players.
Who have been your biggest role models in soccer?
I would say growing up my biggest role model in soccer was my sister Mary Kate. She played here at UNCG from 2004-2008, and she absolutely loved it. She gave me encouraging and positive words that reflected the city, school and entire athletic department. However, she didn't want to completely pressure me into coming here, because she wanted it to be a decision that I made. She wanted to me to come to UNCG because I loved UNCG, not because she did.
What is the biggest thing you learned since being on campus at UNCG?
The biggest thing that I have learned about UNCG since being on campus is that this university works together in both academics and athletics to make UNCG successful. Also, my transition has been very smooth because the staff has been so accommodating. I have greatly enjoyed this process thus far and am excited to start the fall 2012 season. GO SPARTANS!