Jackson Prince, sports editor
Junior midfielder Sammy Edwards, formerly on the radar of many top lacrosse colleges such as Bucknell, Furman, Syracuse, Jacksonville and Amherst, committed to Loyola University Maryland, a Division-I school for lacrosse, this past December. But Edwards, unlike many other high school athletes, didn’t choose lacrosse to merely fill his seventh period. The journey to the apex began in elementary school.
“I’ve been playing lacrosse competitively since 4th grade,” Edwards said. “It’s always been my passion.”
Edwards’ mother, Michelle, was impressed by her son’s love for the game.
“The thing I find most interesting about his success in lacrosse is that it’s the result of his desire, his drive,” she said. “He knew very early on that this was his game and that he wanted to play at the very highest level.”
Known as a “speedy run-and-gun midfielder” and recognized primarily for his “shooting ability and offensive prowess,” Edwards is a physical specimen, a 5-foot-10, 165-pound “behemoth,” according to junior Karl Oger.
While Edwards’ outward evolution from his scrawny, pre-pubescent years to his hulking present clearly contributes to his status on the field, he found his mental growth to be the key to his success.
“I have always been an athlete but, through the years, I have improved my knowledge and IQ of the game as well as my footwork and stick skills,” Edwards said.
In the eighth grade, Edwards was torn by the decision that needed to be made regarding his high school enrollment. His ultimate choice was of the “heart.”
“I chose to come to Beverly because I was born here,” Edwards said. “I grew up playing in the local sports leagues with the boys who attended the Beverly feeder schools like El Rodeo, who quickly became my friends. Beverly Hills has always been home to me.”
His decision was sweetened by the fact that Beverly “had a lacrosse program.”
After a season of freshman football, Edwards buckled down, putting all of his energy toward schoolwork and lacrosse.
He believes that his “on-field decisions” separated him from the pack, thus earning him the attention of collegiate scouts.
“I was recruited for my ability to succeed at the highest level possible. As well as playing with [Beverly], I play with one of the best lacrosse teams in the country, The LA Lazers, and [we] compete against the best teams in the nation.”
Soon, the scouts’ notes turned into conversations, as colleges reached out to Edwards and his family. Letters, emails and calls regularly streamed into the Edwards’ home.
However, all other options were set aside upon his visit to Loyola University Maryland.
“I loved everything about the school,” he said. “I fell in love with the campus, the lacrosse program, the team and the coaches. Loyola is a very small school in which I can thrive academically, and the lacrosse program is ‘big time,’ and I feel that I can accomplish a great deal on the field.”
Upon returning home from the trip (upon which Edwards travelled by himself), Edwards was ready to “present his case” to his parents.
“He made the choice by himself. We believe that because it was [Sammy’s] choice, his commitment to [the school] would thus be stronger,” his mother said.
His commitment to Loyola was recognized by lacrosse clubs and fans across the nation, as the 17-year-old African-American kid from Beverly Hills with the lacrosse stick in his hand had actualized his aspirations.
At Beverly, Edwards gained a significantly beneficial experience, as he found himself playing alongside Nick Heller, who currently plays midfield for Division-1 St. John’s University.
“Nick was a great friend, teammate and, most importantly, a great lacrosse player. I strove to be my best when playing with him,” Edwards said.
Senior Yaniv Sadka, his teammate, sees Edwards as a “confident guy,” but one who has earned the right to swagger.
“He is cognizant of his tremendous athleticism and talent and ultimately has what it takes to succeed in lacrosse and his future endeavors,” Sadka said.
Junior Jordan Etebar found that Edwards, one of his good friends, is simply a “hard worker.”
“He spent many weekends at tournaments across the country. He never took a minute off, as everything was about lacrosse,” he said.
Edwards is not shy in acknowledging his talent, but recognizes that he received a great deal of help along the way.
“I attribute my success to my parents, since they gave me the genes and the encouragement to arrive at the incredible athlete that I currently am. The training from my coach Kyle Harrison opened up many opportunities for me to grow as a lacrosse player,” he said.
Edwards, who gained his partial scholarship to Loyola University Maryland after having just two high school seasons under his belt, hopes now to “continue excelling on and off the field and train extensively for lacrosse to keep [his] skills up.
For now, the sight of Edwards brandishing his A-stick on Nickoll Field is one that should inspire confidence in Norman lacrosse fans.