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THINK FAST: Sam Satterlee’s Pivots in Life Has Led to Successful Business and Softball Careers

PUNXSUTAWNEY (EYT) – When life has gotten in the way and shown Punxsutawney native Samantha “Sam” Satterlee she needs to venture down a different path, she’s done so and figured out the rest as time moved along.

(Photo above: Credit Penn State DuBois Athletics)

The 2016 Punxsutawney Area High School graduate faced a harsh reality as a middle schooler as she unfortunately did not make the middle school volleyball team. Instead, she pivoted to focus more on softball. Softball was the next sport she would try out for as a freshman in the spring of 2013. Through the nervousness that she might not make it, she buckled down and became a junior varsity player in her freshman year. Fast forward just a few years and not only is she a college player, but one who became the first four-year player in the history of Penn State DuBois softball.

Growing up in Punxsutawney meant growing up in a community obsessed with the games of baseball and softball. From former professional players to a well-known Little League system around the state, the Punxsy community unquestionably loves ball on the diamond.

“I think one thing that growing up in Punxsy taught me was how to fight and be competitive,” said Satterlee when reflecting on her upbringing. “I also had great coaches who were dedicated and did their best to help and support myself and my teammates.”

Photo credit Penn State DuBois Athletics.

Satterlee became a two-year starter in the infield for the Lady Chucks softball program and helped lead the team to two consecutive District 9 championships to cap off her career. Just two years after she graduated, the program won its fourth consecutive District 9 title and navigated their way to a state championship victory. While the Lady Chucks were making this run at state gold, Satterlee was finding success of her own at Penn State DuBois and helped take the team from a winless inaugural season to a program that was on the rise.

The 2016-17 school year was a hard one for many reasons. From navigating being a commuter student, recruiting to help put together a softball roster, and just being a young adult who celebrated her 18th birthday in September of her first year of college, there were a lot of new experiences and uncertainties that freshman year presented. The program featured just 10 players many of whom were playing softball for the first time in several years and in some cases, for the first time ever.   After an 0-10 start and a few injuries, the team was forced to cancel the rest of their season. But there was still a lot to be hopeful for and one significant change that was made was the addition of former Penn State DuBois Head Softball Coach Jason Kern.

Kern was the man with experience who could help the team take a leap. He helped the program fill a much more competitive roster and got the program to where it needed to be to begin truly competing in the coming years. The program saw their record go from 0-20 to 5-17; including an 18-8 win over Penn State New Kensington to cap off the season. Satterlee was a big reason for the improvement as she hit .323 with 20 hits, 16 runs scored, and 14 runs batted in. She was also a team captain for the first time and presented leadership that would be crucial in the future.

The 2018-19 season was the best of Satterlee’s college career, both individually and team performance-wise. The Penn State DuBois Nittany Lions saw their win total grow from five to 20 and it propelled them to their first Pennsylvania State University Athletic Conference (PSUAC) title game in program history. They also hosted the United States Collegiate Athletic Association (USCAA) Small College World Series for softball in 2019 and played in their first national championship tournament. Satterlee earned another nod as a PSUAC Academic All-Conference and a USCAA National All-Academic performer. She also hit .382 with 39 hits, 27 runs, 20 runs-batted-in, and 11 extra-base hits in 35 games.

“I’m proud of the fact that because of Coach Kern, Coach (Lauresa) Gulvas, and a solid group of players, we built something special pretty quickly. Our program definitely heard the criticism at first and I admittedly used that as fuel to improve myself and the program.”

Senior year was shaping up to be a special one. The team had improved by 15 wins and some talented players were returning from the 2018-19 team. But after just seven games and completing her final spring training trip in Florida, COVID-19 forced online learning for three weeks and eventually the entire season to be canceled. It was a devastating moment as so many last as a college student and a college athlete were taken from her. She unfortunately never had an in-person graduation, her last moments walking campus with friends, a full experience as an intern with Penn State DuBois athletics in sports marketing, or even a true in-person goodbye to so many in the Penn State DuBois community she grew to know and appreciate.

“When I first got the news, I was so sad and so many things started running through my mind. It was just gone in the blink of an eye. No senior night, no playoffs, no final recognitions, and no final home games in front of fans and family. Everything I worked for and my teammates too was just gone. It was devastating.”

Satterlee finished with dual degrees in business management and marketing and added an entrepreneurship minor. The former Lady Chuck standout also made the Dean’s List in all eight of her semesters as a Penn State student. But the pandemic made it perhaps one of the most difficult times in recorded history to be graduating from college. The job market was incredibly difficult to navigate for everyone and opportunities in the business world with her skill set were limited. The opportunity that presented itself was to continue working for the family business at one of the family-owned gas stations as a general manager. She eventually landed a role she was incredibly passionate about at Brookville Equipment Corporation as a Marketing Specialist. She began the role in January 2022 and has grown to love what she does in her career every day.

Even though her time at Penn State DuBois ended on a truly devastating note, she met the love of her life during her time as a college student. Her husband, Nick Semanek, is a fellow Penn State DuBois graduate and a former baseball player for the DuBois Nittany Lions. The couple recently tied the knot in the fall of 2023 and look forward to what’s coming in this chapter as a married couple. Several of Satterlee’s wedding attendees were former teammates who were met by the couple during their time at Penn State DuBois.

In what’s been the last few years filled with some incredible highs and some of the lowest points in her young adult life, Sam Satterlee has been thankful to her parents Chad and Lisa, and her husband Nick for being her number one supporters and who have been by her side for every victory and difficulty she’s faced. Her parents attended nearly every game of hers from her youngest days till her last game as a senior season at Penn State DuBois. This included some summers playing for various travel organizations simultaneously and even playing over 100 games in a few summers during her middle and high school years. She’s also thankful Penn State DuBois softball brought her a role model like Lauresa Gulvas, who was always by her side as a coach and also a friend who was beginning her post-college life just a few years before Satterlee.

“I look back at all that was accomplished and all the people I met and I have no regrets about my decision to go to Penn State DuBois and play softball. I made friends who I know will be lifelong and being the first four-year player in program history will always be something I take pride in,” she said.