Categorized | Sports

Sami Jo’s Birthday Present

By Thomas Sellers Jr.

Munford’s Sami Jo Schulz is a dependable glove for the Lady Cougars at shortstop. After high school, she’ll take her talents to Memphis.

National Signing Day in the fall always starts on the second Wednesday in November.

Most student/athletes can wait to hold their ceremony at their high schools to sign their national letters of intent. But the long-awaited moment for Munford’s Sami Jo Schulz was delayed a day. Schulz couldn’t resist holding her signing ceremony Nov. 15 to celebrate her 18th birthday.

The large signing cake in the Munford High School cafeteria to celebrate Schulz’s decision to attend The University of Memphis doubled as a birthday cake.

“I remember leaving the hospital with an infant,” Sami Jo’s mother Annette said. “I’m rather proud of her. She’s worked hard. She kept her focus. She maintained her grades. She’s a true blessing. She’s my mini-me. She’s my heart and my soul.”

Annette said her daughter’s God-given ability, drive and the support of several helped her become Munford Softball’s second Division I signee.

Former Lady Cougar great Cali Overbeck was the first player from Glenn Goulder’s program to sign with a Division I school when she inked her letter of intent to play for Ole Miss back in 2007.

Attending Overbeck’s signing that day was her friend Steven Schulz. Five years later he was the proud brother witnessing a Division I letter being inked.

“Both my dad and my mom said I’ve been too hard on her,” he acknowledged. “But I always expected a lot out of her because I know she has the ability and the talent.”

In her three varsity season with the Lady Cougars Sami Jo has displayed that talent with her speed at leadoff, high batting average and sure-glove at shortstop.

Sami Jo has been a big piece to the Lady Cougars reaching their first State Tournament in school history in 2011. Schulz and her teammates repeated the trip to Murfreesboro last season picking up a win at State.

But it was another visit to Middle Tennessee later in 2012 that made Steven realize his sister has the skills to be a big-level softball player.

“It was this past summer,” he recalled. “I left and then I got a call from my Mom. She said she just hit a triple, and she hit another triple. Then she delayed stole home. That’s when I felt like she’s got it.”

Dave Schulz realized his daughter’s Division I talent a few years earlier.

“A lot of years of work,” he said. “She has always worked hard. She started when she was 5. I’m tickled pink. She’s going to the Big East. I thought all along it was a good fit. But with them going to the Big East, even better. She’s worked hard to get this. She’s earn it.

“I knew it when she was 10,” Dave continued. “We were beating 18 year old with 10 and 11 year old. We had a strong team. Every girl on that team was fantastic. She was a good part of it.”

Those words have been used to describe the Munford Lady Cougars in recent years dominating District 13-3A and reaching two State Tournaments. Goulder who has attended nearly 20 signing in his career said Schulz’s ceremony will be the ignition to more signings from his class.

Igniting Munford is routine for Schulz the past three seasons.

“When you come in and start as a freshman doing the job she did, you know you have something special then,” the veteran coach recalled. “She demands a lot from herself. And she also demands a lot from her teammates which I think is great. She sets the bar a little bit higher for everybody. She’s never satisfied.

“Her signature to me is when she gets on first base we score 80 percent of the time,” Goulder added. “She gets on first to leadoff a game, we know good things are going to happen from there on. She’s the ignition.”

Now the next challenge awaiting Sami Jo will be the Big East and earning a spot in the Lady Tigers’ lineup. Annette said from her daughter’s track record, she will be successful.

“She always surprised people,” she said. “When she’s on the field, she’s totally focused. I told her, ‘The softball field is your happy place.’ And it is. That is where she’s most at ease.

“She’s not afraid to fail,” Annette continued. “She’s not afraid to try.  She gets what she wants. When she wants it she’s going to get it. I have faith she will accomplish everything she sets to do.”

Sami Jo said her achieving so much in softball and signing her national letter of intent took her support system.

“I’m very thankful for my Mom for giving up everything to come to any game she could,” she said. “My Dad and brother for practicing as hard as they could. I couldn’t do it without them.

“A special thanks to my Daddy for getting me into traveling ball in the first place and he helped me get as far as I did,” Sami Jo continued. “It’s a great honor to be able to do this for him too.”

The support of her brother was another motivating factor. Schulz said her big day in Murfreesboro that conformed her Division I ability to him makes her smile.

“I just remember feeling really good, ‘Like now I’m finally playing ball,’” she recalled. “I like being able to tell him I’m doing good. I know it makes him feel proud.”

Steven and the others in attendance on signing day/birthday party displayed their pride as Sami Jo signed her letter of intent wearing her trademark pink.

“It means a lot to me to be able to give back to them,” she concluded. “For all of us to accomplish this together means a lot. To be able to play and be on TV, let’s everybody know I accomplished this and worked hard. I’m tickled pink.”

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