Sampen brothers find a home with the Cobras
Published: Tuesday, March 5, 2013
Updated: Tuesday, March 5, 2013 22:03
The Parkland Baseball program welcomed three new players to the roster over winter break when transfers Tyler Anderson, Isaac Sampen and Sam Sampen decided to join the program.
Tyler Anderson found his way to Champaign from the University of Illinois Chicago. Isaac Sampen came from Purdue, and younger brother Sam Sampen had originally committed to West Virginia but eventually they wound up together as Cobras.
The journey of the Sampen brothers to Parkland was a little bit different than the path most athletes take on their way to Champaign.
“At first we committed to West Virginia, and we got out there and realized it probably wasn’t going to work,” younger brother Sam Sampen said. “So we decided that junior college was probably the best route for us.”
Older brother Isaac Sampen also realized that West Virginia wasn’t the best option.
“We both felt like what we were told wasn’t necessarily what we were going to get,” Isaac Sampen said. “I just felt like we jumped on the offer too quickly and didn’t really do our homework on the situation and what was going to happen there.”
Fresh out of high school in Brownsburg, a suburb west of Indianapolis in Indiana, Isaac Sampen was ready to go to Purdue University on a baseball scholarship when things took an unexpected turn. He was unable to get into school there.
“I didn’t take the written portion of the SAT because they told me I didn’t have to take it, so I couldn’t get in,” Isaac recalled. “I signed with Purdue after my freshman year. I was supposed to go there for three years.”
As a result, he was looking for another place to play and jumped quickly on the West Virginia offer. Sam was preparing to join him at West Virginia until they ultimately decided against the Mountaineers.
Sam is a year behind Isaac in school, but graduated high school a semester early to enroll in college.
“I just wanted to get out of high school and move on to get ready to play college baseball,” Sam explained.
However, when their plans to play together at West Virginia fell through, Isaac and Sam once again needed a place to play college baseball.
In the end it all worked out for Coach Matt Kennedy and the Cobras. They landed two players with Division I talent.
“We tell a lot of people that opt to go the four-year school route just ‘Hey keep us in mind if anything changes’,” Matt Kennedy said about his recruitment of the Sampens.
“Sometimes it works out and sometimes it doesn’t, and with these two guys when Isaac decided not to go to Purdue we were back in the mix in the recruiting process and it all worked out.”
Kennedy kept tabs on the Sampens during high school recruiting but didn’t pursue them hard due to the attention they were receiving from so many high level NCAA Division I schools.
“Yeah we liked them, but we didn’t think we had a shot at either one of them,” he explained.
Once things fell through for them with the Division I route, Parkland was the leading candidate for the brothers. The official visits they took reaffirmed the notion.
“I came on a visit and I liked it, and he’d already committed and we always wanted to play together,” Sam stated.
That idea of playing together in college was very important to the decision making process of the brothers and couldn’t be overlooked.
“I think it’s something that most people don’t get the opportunity to do,” Isaac said. “I just thought that we’d played together in high school and in the summer and stuff so I thought to get the chance to play with each other in college and being brothers is rare and something most people don’t get to do.”
Equally important to the Sampens is the fact that now they can focus on just school and baseball for the first time in a long time.
“I’m kind of sick of the whole recruiting process because I’ve gone through it three times,” Isaac said. “I’m ready to just not deal with that for a little while.”
These brothers from Brownsburg like the current group of Cobras which they are joining and expect big things in the coming months.
“I like them a lot, a lot of great guys on this team,” Sam said.
“It’s a close knit group; we all hang out with each other and get along. It’s a really hard working group too,” Isaac added.
Not only do Isaac and Sam expect big things the season now underway, but their Head Coach Matt Kennedy sees their potential and has his own expectations for them.
“Both of these guys are middle of the lineup guys that need to drive in runs for us,” Kennedy said. “If those two get on track then we can score a lot of runs and it could be a fun year.”
Isaac has earned the starting left field job and may potentially see some starts in the pitching rotation as a legitimate two way player. Sam will be filling an open position at third base.
Isaac and Sam Sampen figure to play a significant role if the Cobras are to get back to the Division II World Series for the first time since 2010. Come watch the Sampen brothers and the rest of the Cobras as they host Spoon River on March 23.