Sam VanderWel of Grace Academy controls the ball with Shoreline Christian’s Kelley McElroy defending Friday night in Marysville on January 18, 2019. (Kevin Clark / The Herald)

Sam VanderWel of Grace Academy controls the ball with Shoreline Christian’s Kelley McElroy defending Friday night in Marysville on January 18, 2019. (Kevin Clark / The Herald)

Five things to know: Grace Academy girls hoopster Sam VanderWel

The three-sport athlete works hard on and off the court and has a mind for crunching numbers.

Whether she’s in a classroom or on a volleyball court, basketball court or softball diamond, Grace Academy senior Sam VanderWel is motivated to excel.

“She gives her all in everything that she does. That’s just part of her makeup,” Eagles girls basketball coach Bill Kelley said. “She does things other people don’t do to get her body ready for competition. She’s demanding of herself and her teammates. She’s got speed and quickness and strength, but she’s an extremely hard worker.”

VanderWel has played volleyball and basketball at Grace Academy and softball at Granite Falls, earning all-conference honors in each sport. She’s also been a member of the Snohomish Shock Softball Club for the past four years.

Here are five things to know about VanderWel:

1. She’s worked to become a more positive person. “I used to be more negative,” VanderWel said. “It hit me hard when I got to high school. A coach told me, ‘You’re not going to play if you’re negative.’ Even in school I got frustrated if I didn’t get straight As. Sometimes I’m still negative, and it’s a struggle. I’m not perfect. But it’s a struggle I’m going to beat because I hate being negative. My friends have helped me so much. One of my select softball teammates, Anya Mesa, has been a big role model for me. She’s the sweetest person in the world, and has had a big impact on me.”

2. She’s a member of National Honor Society. She’s put in 50 service hours in each of the past three years as part of her commitment to Grace Academy’s NHS chapter. “We’ve helped at food banks, cleaned up streams, picked up garbage, helped homeless people,” VanderWel said. “I love serving my community. It shows you that not everything is about yourself. It’s fun to help your fellow human beings.”

3. She’s got a head for numbers. “I’ve been looking (at pursuing a career in) accounting, or (becoming a) mathematician, or maybe teaching math,” said VanderWel, who hasn’t chosen a college yet but hopes to continue her softball career at the next level. “I love math. I’ve always been good with numbers. At school we have the Math Olympics, and I’ve won almost every year. I like it because I think it’s cool to see how many different ways you can get the same answer if you do the steps properly.”

4. She’s a voracious reader. “I’m a hoarder. I’ve got so many good books in my room, so many options to choose from,” VanderWel said. “I love fantasy and science fiction. One of my favorites is the ‘Ruby Red’ series (by Kerstin Gier). It’s about a girl who travels through time. I re-read it whenever I want to.”

5. She was a Girl Scout. VanderWel was a member of a troop in Granite Falls for about six years when she was younger. “That was a good learning experience, too, because the Girls Scouts are all about helping the community,” she said. “I had the chance to do a lot of different things that I don’t normally get to do. I really enjoyed it. I wish I could still do it, but I don’t have the time.”

Talk to us

More in Sports

Seattle Mariners shortstop J.P. Crawford, left, and center fielder Kyle Lewis celebrate the team's win over the Los Angeles Angels in a baseball game in Anaheim, Calif., Monday, Aug. 31, 2020. (AP Photo/Kyusung Gong)
Mariners see development, progress in truncated season

With more talent on the way, Seattle’s rebuilding timeline appears to be coming to fruition.

Seattle Seahawks outside linebacker Shaquem Griffin, left, blocks Dallas Cowboys offensive tackle Brandon Knight during the second half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Sept. 27, 2020, in Seattle. The Seahawks won 38-31. (AP Photo/John Froschauer)
Shaquem Griffin impresses Seahawks against Cowboys

Cut when Seattle reduced its roster to 53, the pass-rusher proved he deserves another opportunity.

Everett's Dustin Wolf stops a shot at goal against Seattle Sunday evening at ShoWare Center in Kent on March 8, 2020. The Silvertips won 3-2. (Kevin Clark / The Herald)
Community sports roundup: Wolf again on U.S. hockey radar

Plus the WIAA is offering free mental training and a local park will host women’s football tryouts.

From left to right, Seattle Mariners Kyle Lewis, Kyle Seager and Dee Gordon stand together at a “summer camp” baseball practice in July, in Seattle. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)
POLL: How do you grade the Mariners’ 2020 season?

Seattle missed the postseason yet again while giving young players valuable experience.

Seattle Seahawks' Jermaine Kearse catches the game-winning touchdown pass in front of Green Bay Packers' Tramon Williams during overtime of the NFL football NFC Championship game Sunday, Jan. 18, 2015, in Seattle. The Seahawks won 28-22 to advance to Super Bowl XLIX. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)
Kearse, author of many big moments for Seahawks, retires

The wide receiver who also starred at UW was a clutch performer during Seattle’s Super Bowl years.

Seattle Seahawks wide receiver Tyler Lockett reacts after scoring a touchdown against the Dallas Cowboys on Sept. 27. (John Froschauer / Associated Press)
Tyler Lockett is Seattle’s most important wide receiver

He’s overshadowed by the flamboyant DK Metcalf, but Lockett makes the big plays.

Meet the 9 new members of the Snohomish County Sports HOF

The class includes legendary teams, athletes, coaches and voices from the area.

Washington co-defensive coordinator Jimmy Lake works with players at the first practice of spring football for the NCAA college team Wednesday, March 28, 2018, in Seattle. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)
UW ‘off and running’ in preparing for season opener

After a ‘roller coaster’ offseason, new head coach Jimmy Lake turns his attention to the football field.

Seattle Seahawks receiver Tyler Lockett, second from right, celebrates with teammates DK Metcalf, center, and Jordan Simmons, right, after Lockett scored a touchdown against the Dallas Cowboys during the first half of Seattle’s 38-31 victory Sunday at CenturyLink Field. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)
Grading the Seahawks’ 38-31 victory over the Cowboys

The offense shines again, while questions still linger about the defense.

Most Read