Melanie Glinsmann

Writing my way through the cubicle jungle one day at a time

What’s In A Legacy? — Tribute to Sam Foltz

Nebraska punter – Sam Foltz. I took this picture during a game in 2015.

It’s been a tough couple days around here. Sunday morning, news broke that a beloved member of the University of Nebraska football team – Sam Foltz – had been killed in a car crash. Along with Foltz, former Michigan State punter, Mike Sadler, was also killed, and LSU punter, Colby Delahoussaye, was injured.

Anyone who has known me longer than ten minutes knows I am a big sports fan, especially when it comes to my Huskers. Even though I grew up in Colorado, I was schooled on the finer points of all things Cornhusker because of my dad (who grew up in central Nebraska). I listened to games on the radio before the days of cable television and big network deals. I memorized players’ names, numbers, positions, and even hometowns.

Sam Foltz was the epitome of why people around here bleed Husker red. A walk-on and a farm boy, he was one of those guys you couldn’t help but love. He did everything the right way – good student, strong work ethic, proud of his family and small town background, and went out of his way to give back to others. With so many bad things going on in the world, and stories of athletes in trouble, Sam was someone fans could be proud of to represent their school and be a role model for young fans.

One of the last events Sam participated in at Nebraska was the Uplifting Athletes road race to raise funds to help children with rare diseases. After the race, he posted a picture on his Twitter account reflecting on the idea of legacy.

According to Dictionary.com, legacy means:

1) a gift of property, especially personal property, as money, by a will

2) anything handed down from the past, as from an ancestor or predecessor

Sam Foltz knew legacy was so much more than money, property, or even a lesson from the past. He knew that legacy was about how you live your life each day and the impact you can make on another person with one simple gesture.

Whether he was giving an interview to a local sportscaster, talking to a fan after a game, or speaking at a youth clinic like he did the night he died, Sam made it a point to show everyone he encountered they were worthy of his time. He wanted people to feel important.

I didn’t know Sam personally. But in the few interactions we had via Twitter, it was obvious he felt it was important to recognize those who took the time to contact him. He retweeted a couple pictures I took of him during games and thanked me for supporting him and the team. In that moment, I knew he didn’t know me, but the fact that he took the time to acknowledge what I said showed his appreciation for my support even though I was only one of the 90,000 plus people in the stadium that day.

Sam might be gone from this world, but in his short 22 years of life, he created a legacy well beyond what most people achieve in 80 years. He understood he could make a difference in people’s lives in small moments, by listening, by caring, and by helping those he could.

When the Huskers take the field this fall, it will be with heavy hearts. But they will also know they can follow Sam’s influence both on and off the field. Sam’s legacy will certainly remember him as an accomplished athlete. But more importantly, his legacy will be about work ethic, generosity, and a genuine desire to make life better for others.

 

Keep pinning ’em deep, Sam. 

 

 

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