The second of our article series – as well as a personal role model – has had her fair share of turning heads. With one of the most unique (and accurate) throws on the court, coupled with phenomenal court IQ and strong catching abilities, she proved herself to be a stand-out almost instantly. Sami Beining was a star, not just on the East Coast but across the league; at one point or another everyone had heard of the girl who softball pitched from Penn State. She carries a decorated career through her time in the NCDA, finishing as a 2x Female MVP. I had the pleasure of talking with her about what her collegiate career was like.
- Where did you attend college and how long have you played dodgeball?
My name is Sami Beining and I attended Penn State University from 2014-2018. I played club dodgeball all 4 years on campus, but only started traveling with the team my sophomore year.
- How did you find your club and get involved?
I found out about the club through some kids in my dorm. They asked if I wanted to give it a try and I said sure. After going to one practice, I knew it was something I wanted to stick with. I missed playing a sport and this was an opportunity to throw again after ending my softball career. Not only that, the current team members were so welcoming and happy to have a girl play. Almost all of them are still friends to this day long after they’ve graduated. During my sophomore year, I got more involved and became the club treasurer. I continued that role until I graduated since it provided a leadership position and way to help guide the club through a lot of changes in Penn State’s club sports system.
- Getting the competitive mindset for dodgeball; what made you decide to stick with it and work at it? How did your first headshot make you feel?
I’m naturally a competitive person so this was a perfect outlet to play my hardest and work towards something. My teammates all said my underhand throw was sick, and I wanted to make it even better. With more practice and lifting, I was able to make my throw faster and more accurate. I’m the kind of person who can’t just be good at something, I want to be the best. This is a mindset I bring to all aspects in life. Seeing success not only for myself but as a team made me want to stick with it.
I will never forget my first headshot. It was during practice and one poor soul took it to the face. I felt bad at first since I knew it must have hurt, but then I realized I can do this to other teams during tournaments. Not that I’d purposely go head hunting, but my throw does have a natural rise to it. Sorry to anyone I hit!
- How had your roster spot changed over time, or what was the process of earning your roster spot like – easy or difficult?
As time went on and I gained experience, my time on the court increased. I was pretty much a starter for most matches my junior and senior years. I think the important thing to realize is your teammate’s strengths and knowing when to put them into clutch situations. Knowing when to step out and let another player be on the court is the difficult part since I know everyone including myself wanted to be out there.
- Do you have anyone on your team that you looked up to and helped you?
Yes, absolutely. It’s hard to pick just one person so I’m going to say the classes before me. They set the expectations and overall characteristics of the club. They created a fun atmosphere that allowed people to find their niche in college. They gave lots of advice on keeping my throw low, timing, tips on catching, overall court strategy and so much more. They helped me develop as a player and boost my confidence.
- Were there any misconceptions about you from competitors?
I think people were scared of me. Between my throw and that I was more on the quiet/stealth side while on the court people got a little intimidation factor.
- What was your defining and/or favorite moment on the court?
I think my favorite memory was a match during nationals 2018 at VCU. It was on Sunday for bracket elimination day and we were playing CMU. Although we lost, it was one of the most intense games I’ve ever played in. We played so well as a team and kept making ridiculous catches or throws to stay alive. We had people in the upper seats of the gym cheering for us and the atmosphere was one of the best to play in. During that game, I know we left it all on the court. As my last game as an NCDA athlete it was one to remember.
- What is it like, to you, being the only female on the court at times?
To be honest it’s not something I thought about too often. I saw it as people I have to get out vs me and my teammates not paying attention to guys and girls. I guess when I was the last player standing on my team I’d feel a little more pressure since I wanted to prove I could get a catch and bring someone else in.
- Is there anything you would change with women’s involvement in the league or any words for upcoming women?
There’s not anything that I can think of changing, but I cannot encourage girls enough to play. Even if you’ve never played before, take the chance and try it at least once. There’s such an adrenaline rush from playing that I think a lot of female athletes have gotten from playing other sports that they would experience again while playing dodgeball. It’s a great opportunity to be on a team, make friends, travel, and create lifelong memories you’re going to brag to your kids about someday, lol. If being on a team is important to you this could be a great opportunity. I have to end this the way Penn State ends a huddle. One, two…Hard as f*%k!