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We were finally able to catch up with former IFJ ECNL player Samantha Dewey, who recently signed her first pro contract with Spanish club Real Betis Feminas, which plays in the country’s top league, Primera Iberdrola.

What led you to sign with Real Betis Féminas of the Primera Iberdrola - the top flight of women's soccer in Spain?

Learning the ins and outs of this process has been really cool. The month of January certainly felt like a whirlwind at times with hiring an agent, attending the draft, and connecting with different teams. My agent was extremely helpful and provided comfort in unknown areas for myself and my family. Real Betis is a well-known and successful club and is in one of the most competitive leagues in the world. When the opportunity came to sign, it felt as if the timing, though very quick, aligned with goals I’d set for myself.

You were one of sixty NCAA men's and women's soccer student-athletes who excel both on and off the field. Earning you a selection for the 2019 Senior CLASS Award® in collegiate soccer. Players selected display excellence in the four Cs of community, classroom, character and competition. What drives you off the field? 

It can be incredibly difficult to separate who you are from what you do every day. In my case, competitive athletics has been what I do for as long as I can remember. However, as I’ve matured and learned from people much wiser than myself, I’ve realized it’s important not to place your identity in what you do. My faith, family, friends, and continuing to pursue being the best possible version of myself is what drives me of the field!

In 2017, you appeared in five games, starting in two, before redshirting due to injury… what did you learn from this experience?

Adversity comes in a variety of ways and mine happened to be a season ending injury. In the moment, it was extremely difficult feeling like I couldn’t contribute for my team and program. Ultimately, I learned different parts of the game from having to be on the sidelines, changed my eating habits and workout regimen, and got fit.

What did you find most beneficial about your time at Xavier? 

Definitely connecting with people. Xavier is just such a different and special place and that is 100% because of the people and community associated with the university.

You earned numerous accolades at Xavier (All American Honors, Big East Midfielder of the Year, Big East Preseason Offensive Player of the Year) and set several records during your high school career...including the Indiana State record for the most goals in one season (83) as well as for the most goals in a career (257). What do you think helped you find such success in your attacking play? 

I’ve been lucky enough to play with teammates throughout my career that put me in positions to be successful. So much of my success is attributed to them. As an attacking player I found it imperative to have a certain mentality and confidence to continue to find different ways to create, be dangerous, and score for the team.

Players must be skillful to play at the pro level. But what is the number one thing you feel you possess to become a pro?  Is it mentality, skill, physicality, intelligence..?

I think I am a competitor through and through. I play with a chip on my shoulder, and because of that, I have a confidence that I think always brings an intensity to whatever I’m doing.

How did your time with IFJ ECNL play a role in your development? 

IFJ definitely aided in my development. Playing against and with some of the best players in the country exposed me to variables within trainings and games that I saw at the collegiate level. I gained exposure which ultimately led me to the school that was perfect for me (Let’s Go X!).

What advice do you have for our younger ECNL players? 

Be yourself. Love what you do. Don’t fear failure. Follow your dreams. And comparison is the thief of joy. Not everyone’s path is the same so pick the school that feels right for you because a big school or a big name does not always equal success and happiness.

Where do you see yourself 5-10 years down the road? 

I’m hoping to ride this wave for as long as the good Lord will let me. I’m hoping to continue to play, travel, and find joy in all things. Once my soccer career is all finished up, I’m hoping to help collegiate athletes as a strength and conditioning coach.