Former Masters star Coffey takes talents to the pros


Isaac Cass

Sam Coffey dribbles the ball in a game during her early high school soccer career. Coffey was a star midfielder at Masters and went on to play Division I soccer at Boston College and then Penn State. Now, she will head off to Portland, Oregon to play for the Thorns of the National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL)

Kwynne Schlossman, Web and Social Media Manager

Masters alumna Sam Coffey was drafted to the Portland Thorns FC on Jan. 13, a team in the National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL) as the 12th pick in the league’s 2021 draft. 

Coffey served as captain of the Masters girls’ varsity soccer team from 2015 to 2016, leading the team to the Fairchester Athletic Association (FAA) league semi-finals. 

According to Coffey, her time playing for Masters was instrumental in her journey to become a professional soccer player, and in cultivating her love for the sport.

All the aspirations that I’ve been dreaming of since I first touched a soccer ball are coming true, and I couldn’t be more thankful.

— Sam Coffey

“I can’t believe I can do what I love most as my profession. It’s work and it’s competitive, but Masters brought another version of the game to me, just playing and being around my friends made it an escape,” she said.

Hernando Santamaria, former girls’ varsity head soccer coach for the majority of Coffey’s time at Masters, played a pivotal role in her success. Their bond helped Coffey to improve her play on the field and guide her through games. 

Santamaria said, “Sam spoke her mind and did the work. She was able to help me understand the Masters culture.” He continued, “She held my hand through getting introduced to the community.”

Santamaria, known as Nando to many of his players, formed a close relationship with Coffey centered around their shared love for the sport.

“He is always one of the first people to congratulate me. He is a great guy––Nando. He fostered an environment where I could be flexible with my schedule and he genuinely became a friend to me at Masters,” Coffey said.

Coffey’s impact and lasting legacy on the soccer program at Masters remain evident today, as her current achievements continue to inspire her former teammates. Alumna Jennyfer “JJ” Marquez played with Coffey her sophomore year. Marquez reflected on her experience playing alongside Coffey.

“When sharing the field with Sam, she was not only a teammate but she was also a mentor. She taught us what hard work looks like, and now that we’ve seen what she’s accomplished, she continues to inspire me to this day to never give up. She showed me what real determination looked like,” she said.

Coffey went on to play Division I soccer at Boston College, where she was named First Team All-American in 2018. She then transferred to Penn State before starting her junior year, making a major impact on the Nittany Lions––she scored 11 goals and was named First Team All-Big Ten.

Now a senior at Penn State, Coffey’s sights are set on winning the national championship. 

“I am focusing on staying present here at Penn State instead of jumping ahead in the future. There is business to be done here first,” she said. 

Although Coffey has seen a string of recent major successes, she hasn’t forgotten moments in her career when she felt like her time playing soccer had reached its end. Coffey had been on the USA World Cup U20 team for a year but was cut in 2018.

“I was heartbroken, I had given everything I had to the team. I controlled all the controllables and gave it all my effort. It was such a pivotal moment in my career where I felt I had nothing left to give,” she said. 

Coffey attributes much of her success to this setback––viewing her failure as another obstacle to overcome. 

“It taught me so much about what it means to fall short of a goal and how to deal with that adversity. I know I am learning to accept failure and not fear it, since it has provided me with some of the deepest experiences and lessons that I have had,” Coffey said.

To play professionally has been a longtime dream of Coffey’s, and she looks forward to making a tangible impact on the team’s successes on and off the field. 

“I want to be a rookie who has an immediate effect. I want to grow as a player in every way,” she said.

Coffey achieved her goal: the ability to translate what she loves and is passionate about into her occupation. 

She added, “All the aspirations that I’ve been dreaming of since I first touched a soccer ball are coming true, and I couldn’t be more thankful.”