Sometimes when we go on a journey, it doesn’t ALWAYS go the way we planned. Sometimes the road gets hard and bumpy. But in the end what really matters is how you answer one question…WAS IT WORTH IT? Well when your family and extended family love you, hard times become good times. The Sabino’s are a family and families take care of each other. So to answer that question regarding Sam Sabino’s Journey, the answer is YES. Sam Sabino has given a verbal commitment to the UNIVERSITY OF NEW HAMPSHIRE.
There one big Happy Family…NEW HAMPSHIRE BOUND!


Sam Sabino is one of the toughest people I have ever met and I’m not talking just for a kid…She is as tough as any human I know, male, female, old, short, fat and ugly. Its her toughness that makes her special and different from other kids. She has this ability to take on adversity and disappointment without throwing in the towel. Sam Sabino has seen the good times and the bad times at an early age. But somehow she always seems to get it right in the end.
When Sam was a 7th grader her team lost in the State AAU finals, she was young at the time, but that lost hurt and Sam vowed her team would not lose again the next year. In State AAU final the next year against the very same team, her ShoreShots team won the State Title for 8th graders.

You see Sam has this rare ability to bounce back, she doesn’t know it, but this is her true gift and biggest talent. I can tell you where she is gets these talents from…her parents Pat and Tracey Sabino, who have instilled in their kids anything is possible; but you must also be willing to risk something in the process…Tracey and Pat Sabino took the biggest risk of all for Sam and her siblings

Pat and Tracey Sabino taught Sam anything is Possible

The start of Sam’s freshman year, Pat and Tracey decided to sell their home in Howell and move to Rumson in order to give Sam a chance to play for one of the best programs in the state. They sold their summer home and their boat in order to give their children what they believed would be the perfect academic and basketball setting. That year Sam managed to secure a starting spot on the varsity as a freshman and it was clear Sam was a special talent. All eyes were on Sam Sabino that freshman year, but Sam managed to rise above some disappointing moments both on and off the court. The Journey was starting off a bit rocky but Sam had gotten though the first stage.
Sam Sabino has no reason not to smile these days

When you talk about mental toughness, disappointment and Joy, all you need to do is look at Sam Sabino’s sophomore season. The Rumson babies were growing up and it looked like they could do something special. The team was starting to come together and of course everyone was a year older, it looked like RFH was going to make a deep run in both the SCT and the State Tournament. But before any of that would take place, hurricane Sandy came and changed lives of many people, including the Sabino’s. The Sabino lost just about everything including their home during the storm. The Sabino family was homeless and that’s not just words. This is one of the closest families I have ever known and they had to be split up. So Sam’s younger sibling went to live with Grandparents, Aunts and Uncles. Sam and Sid who had now joined the RFH team went to live with different friends in town.
Hurricane Sandy Broke up a Beautiful Family!

This is when family matters and Sam’s extended family saved the day for her and her family. They were given a roof over their heads until things could be sorted out by loved ones and friends. While all this was going on Sam was in the mist of her basketball season. She was battling opponents and Sandy while her family was torn apart. Again this why I say Sam Sabino is not one of the toughness kids I know but also somebody that always gets up off the deck.
Hurricane Sandy may have destroyed the Sabino’s home but not their family

But life has a way of helping those who help themselves, because out of nowhere a friend and neighbor offered the ENTIRE Sabino FAMILY a place to be a family again. They allowed the Sabino’s to stay in their guest home until the Sabino’s home was repaired…talk about extending a helping hand. That would not be the end folks because as the season progressed a couple of things went Rumson’s and Sam Sabino’s way. First they crushed SJV and beat Pt Boro late in the season on their way to a Group 2 Central State Title…Sometimes the Journey is worth the ride and in Sam’s case the Journey ended in a story book fashion as her sophomore season came to a close.
Hurricane Sandy couldn’t break Sam or her Teammates..GROUP 2 CHAMPS

The summer of Sam Sabino’s sophomore year; something happened that changed her life. Her mother Tracey Sabino decided she no longer would coach the ShoreShots. So she went out and hired an old tough Irishman by the name of Joe Whalen, who had become the head coach at St. Rose. The connection Joe Whalen and Sam Sabino made was instant. The first thing Joe Whalen told Sam was “I promise you that you will be a better player at the end of the summer.” Coach Joe Whalen kept his word, because Sam Sabino last summer took her game to a level even I couldn’t believe. How good was Sam Sabino? Let me put it this way, she played as good as any kid I had ever seen during a summer period and her performance at Academic Elite (July 29th this year) was nothing short of breath taking. College coaches where lining up for Sam Sabino and the offers started to flood in. Joe Whalen had turned Sam Sabino into a beast and Sam was itching for her junior year to start. Hurricane Sandy may have knocked Sam down but it couldn’t knock her out. Sam’s High School and AAU season couldn’t have ended any better. She won a State title and she was one of the Hottest players in New Jersey…it couldn’t get much better for Sam Sabino..and oh yeah… her family got their house back!
Joe Whalen and his Shoreshots made Sam a Household name…

Last year Sam Sabino was truly tested, she pulled her hamstring and had to miss almost all of the pre-season training that most kids do. When she was finally cleared to play, she had missed the first two scrimmages of the season. Then when she got back on the court; it looked like after a week or two Sam was rounding back in shape. But then she broke her nose and had to sit out another 10 days. Then when she returned Sam was forced to wear a mask that prevented her from seeing. The season was beginning to look like a lost year; as expectations for RFH are always high and not having a healthy Sam was not helping. When she finally got the mask off for the first time in the SCT, Sam Sabino went off with 5 three pointers, 21 points and bucket load of asst as she helped RFH advance to the semi-finals of the SCT. This was another chance for RFH to save what can only be called an average season by RFH standards. But the opponent would be St. Rose and the very man who turned her loose on the competition the previous summer, would be coaching the other team. St. Rose was playing as well as any team in the state and defeated RFH easily. RFH season would end with a lost to Manasquan in the state tourney and all that was left for Sam Sabino to do was pick a college.
Sam spent lots of time studying last season..

Now let me tell you about picking a college for an athlete, it’s never easy because everyone has an opinion. It’s hard because in many cases the athlete is not sure what they want and loved ones think they know what the athlete wants. Sam Sabino during her recruiting process showed what real toughness is about. She understood there are things you must do during the recruiting process and saying “NO” is the hardest thing of all. Right off the bat Sam informed certain schools she not would be attending their University. I remember being disappointed that she would not take a visit to a local school that offered. I asked her why?. She said firmly “no chance I’m going there.” I knew right there Sam was fully in charge of her recruiting that day. Her Grandfather was a great athlete at Wagner College and she visited Wagner because she wanted to see what her grandfather looked like in a Wagner uniform. It was heartwarming and exciting to see her grandfather young and in his prime. She was so grateful to the Wagner staff and it brought tears to her mother’s eyes. Sam and her Grandfather are close and he is honest and supportive of Sam. He sends her notes and tells her to work harder before a game and he reminds Sam that it takes dedication to be good at anything; he is a true shining light in Sam life.
Grandma and Poppy Radigan have always been there for Sam!

Sam Sabino was under tremendous stress to pick a school folks. She got those calls from coaches saying we need a decision or we are moving in another direction and she didn’t budge and wished them success. When somebody wrote “Tough times don’t last…Only tough people” They clearly had Sam Sabino in mind, because for a 17 year old girls to be this confidence is unheard and RARE. Some coaches and friends believed Sam was being too picky and that she needed to choose a school. I had a college coach tell me Sam looks stressed, Sam laughed at such talk. She told me that unless it’s the right school, “I plan on playing in the summer and starting over”… and she meant it folks.
Does this look like somebody under pressure to choose a school?

Last year while on a visit in the New England area I told Sam Sabino she should swing by the University of New Hampshire and check it out. I had two Nephews who both attended UNH and both now play in the NHL. They swear by the school and told me they love UNH. I have another nephew who just gave UNH a verbal commitment this year. I think Sam decided to visit UNH out respect for me and I’m happy she did. When she got back from her trip, she said one school is out; but this one I’m going back to visit again…That school UNH.

Grandma and Poppy Sabino a kiss for good luck

Last week when Sam was on her way to UNH I was concerned that Sam was losing focus on her visit. College coaches where calling and I thought it taking away Sam’s attention and I told her to focus on one school at a time. I felt it was important that Sam, really see what New Hampshire was about and to make sure she got the totally picture. After her visit Sam Sabino called me to say she liked UNH, but told me she was not ready to make a decision. She told me the school was everything she had hoped for, but wanted to think things over some more. I asked her what where concerns and what didn’t she like? She said she did not have one concern and it seemed like the perfect school. My first thoughts were this is going to be a long, long process for Sam Sabino. But then something happened at 8 am the next morning. Sam Sabino texted me and said I am calling New Hampshire after school. I am going to verbal commitment to the University of New Hampshire, proving to the very end, she was in control of her recruiting, Sam took her time and gave her verbal when SHE WAS READY!……The Journey is not over for Sam Sabino, but it just got a little better for both SAM SABINO and THE UNIVERSITY OF NEW HAMPSHIRE….
A been a interesting Journey for the Entire Sabino family…but its been worth it!


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