By Miranda Kulp, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Most students at this university can always remember when they visited the university and experienced Happy Valley for the first time. However for Penn State men's soccer player Sam Bollinger, Penn State has been within five minutes from his house since he was a toddler.
Originally born in Boston, Bollinger moved to State College before he was one when his dad became a chemistry professor here at Penn State.
Born and raised Nittany Lion fan, Bollinger reflects on the journey of being a fan to making the men's soccer team in his sophomore year.
"It's honestly a dream come true, I've been coming to these games since I was five and I've always wanted to play on the team," stated Bollinger. "My freshman year I was on the club team but then I walked on this year and it's been great achieving that dream of mine."
Although Bollinger played club his freshman year, he was determined to make his dream of playing Division I soccer a reality.
"Sam is a great story about someone who is following his dream, who trained to make his dreams a reality," said Head Coach Bob Warming.
"He fits in great with the team; he also stands as a role model for everyone. He's a perfect example of someone who is playing Division I soccer but is also dedicated to his studies. Through his actions he demonstrates that he's at Penn State to play soccer but also because he loves the school," continued Coach Warming.
So far for his first season with the team, Bollinger has appeared in ten matches and started one, racking up a total of 293 minutes playing time. He helped the Lions tie with Ohio State by scoring his first goal in college play.
"Sam is an energy guy, he has more running power on the team than anyone else, so when he comes off the bench he speeds the game up," said Coach Warming.
Outside of soccer, Bollinger is just as dedicated to his academics. Currently a chemistry major and biology minor, he also is in Penn State's honor college.
In 2014 he was a Big Ten Distinguished Scholar Athlete and was an Academic All-Big-Ten honoree.
Bollinger has aspirations to attend medical school after undergrad to help him prepare for a career as a doctor in the future.
"Between my education and soccer I don't really have a lot of time for anything else but both things are important to me so I never mind giving them the extra demanded time," said Bollinger.
Bollinger credits his father for instilling his focus and dedication to his education. Additionally with his family living so close to the university he explains his parents are always willing to support him out in both soccer and schoolwork.
"My dad is a chemistry professor here at the university, its funny because I never thought I'd go into what he teaches but I think I want to go to medical school after Penn State," said Bollinger. "My dad definitely has an impact on how serious I take my academic."
"He and I are pretty close so my dad is always willing to help me out in whatever I need," continued Bollinger.
Growing up in State College, Bollinger always was a fan of the university and the Blue and White. He also stands as an inspiration of someone who not only is perusing his love for soccer, but also determined to better himself through his academics.
"Penn State is a great combination of academics and athletics so I always knew I wanted to come here," stated Bollinger.