By Madeleine Balestrier, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - He may have grown up going to the Berkey Creamery and spending Saturdays in Beaver Stadium, but he found another kind of home on the Penn State men's soccer team. As a walk-on, State College native Sam Bollinger uses his coveted Blue and White No. 26 as a motivation to consistently work hard and remain resilient in all facets of his life at Penn State.
"Sam Bollinger is just a tremendous story to begin with," head coach Bob Warming said. "A local guy whose put himself in the position to not only be on our team but be a starter on our team, be a scholarship player on our team, to be Academic All-Big Ten."
After his freshman year as a Penn State student, Bollinger worked restlessly to earn a spot on Jeffrey Field's pitch as a student-athlete.
"What you leave behind is a legacy and the legacy is how hard you work every day and what the standard continues to be for the program no matter what and they've really helped leave a great legacy for us," Warming said on the senior class.
Bollinger's legacy began when he played meaningful minutes as a walk-on sophomore. In his sophomore campaign, he appeared in 14 games for 495 minutes and notched a season-high three goals.
"Most memorable on the field was probably my first goal at Ohio State two years ago," Bollinger said. "Obviously I wanted to play for Penn State my whole life it was a dream come true to be able to contribute in that way by scoring."
As a junior, his playing time increased through 13 games, two starts and 570 minutes; he even played a season-high 90 minutes through three consecutive games on the field in 2016.
He continues to contribute as a forward and midfielder throughout this season's senior campaign. Through fourteen games Bollinger has already notched 734 minutes of total play with two crucial assists.
Bollinger's work ethic does not only play through his time spent on the pitch, but also his education and future career path.
He has been recognized as a Schreyer Honors College Scholar, Academic All-Big Ten athlete and a Big Ten Distinguished Scholar throughout his time at Penn State.
"All the things Sam's done are the things you'd love to see out of every student athlete," Warming said. "He is going to be a great physician or researcher or whatever he decides to do."
Following in his father's footsteps, Bollinger is majoring in chemistry and pursuing medical school after graduation.
"Still medical school," Bollinger said on his future plans. "I actually just completed like all of my applications for all of the schools so I'm just waiting to hear back now hopefully I'll start getting interviews soon."
As the Penn State men's soccer player looks towards his future beyond graduation, he also reflects upon his college experience with gratitude towards a program that enabled his hometown roots and stimulated a motivating and successful work ethic.
"It just kind of was like my freshman year, I wasn't on the team and I kind of was like lost," Bollinger said on his first year at Penn State and the importance of the men's soccer team. "I had my high school friends but didn't really know my place at Penn State and being on the team just gave me a lot more meaning in my college career. It kind of helped me structure my time a lot better, it gave me a sense of purpose waking up everyday...it made my college experience a million times better than it would've been otherwise."
For more information on Nittany Lion men's soccer, log onto www.GoPSUsports.com and follow the team on the various social media platforms.