SAN RAFAEL — As a volleyball player at Dominican University, Samantha Rains, formerly of Ponderosa High, was a natural choice to serve as a coach/mentor to children ages 7 to 12 at the Dominican’s Summer Sports Camps.
The 6-foot junior business administration major led the Penguins in blocked shots last season and is an assistant coach for the Marin Juniors Volleyball Club. She is in Dominican’s Honors Program, made the Dean’s List and is a member of the Pacific West Conference’s All-Academic Team.
She’s also the new President of the Penguin Student-Athlete Advisory Committee and her community work fundraising for breast cancer research, something she excelled at as a Lady Bruin, is both admirable and remarkable.
Rains’ multi-tasking/multi-talents, however, extend beyond volleyball. At Dominican Summer Camps — where 20 Penguins’ student-athletes coached six sports weekdays — Rains coached flag football.
Before entering Ponderosa where she earned the volleyball team’s MVP and Most Inspirational Player honors, Rains played tackle football for three years as the first female in the Pop Warner program in Placerville. Wearing a do-rag under her helmet, she started at offensive tackle, tight end and outside linebacker.
“I loved football so much,” said Rains, who once broke her left arm in a practice. “I was always taller and bigger than the other kids.”
In her early years, Rains chose football over ballet and jazz dance because she comes from a football family. Her father, Randy, was a defensive tackle at Sacramento State University. Her brother, Connor, is currently an offensive tackle at the University of Wyoming. Her other brother, Clay, played football at the United States Military Preparatory School and is now on the Army Black Knights club boxing team.
Samantha gave up football in seventh grade for a new love — volleyball — when she made her middle school volleyball team for the first time after being cut as a sixth grader. In high school, she blossomed into an all-star player, a two-time team captain who competed in the Junior Olympics.
Yet, her interests bound beyond the volleyball and basketball court as she loves to offer a helping hand.
While at Ponderosa, Samantha, whose own family has a history of cancer, worked for the Pink Ribbon Breast Cancer Fund whose program benefits Placerville by providing free mammograms and assisting families that are battling cancer.
Entering her junior year of high school, Samantha, through the Side-out Foundation’s National Dig Pink program, organized a cancer research fundraiser for the volleyball team. Because of her desire to have fundraising dollars dedicated locally, the next year Samantha organized her own “Think Pink” event for the entire school and community. She spearheaded a “Ponderosa Spirit Day” with all fundraising earmarked to local cancer-fighting agencies. And she’s continued her cause at Dominican.
“I think I set a very high standard for myself,” Samantha said. “I feel bad if I don’t put 100 percent effort into something and that goes for everything. I’m passionate.”
While Samantha throws herself into many projects, presenting the facts about her desire to coach flag football at Dominican took a little more doing. Last year, she approached Patrick Huser, Director of Dominican Summer Sports Camps, and Lorel Grande, who is in charge of operations and personnel management for the day camps, about coaching volleyball for them. Huser asked Samantha if she could coach any other sports in the camp. She suggested flag football.
“I think they were shocked,” Samantha said.
“I was blown away,” Huser said. “It was incredible what she knew about football.”
She teamed with Penguins lacrosse players Brock Beall, Cam Evangelho and Sean Donohue to run the inaugural flag football program. Once the campers got past the oddity of a girl coaching football, the program was an instant hit. Samantah drafted the only girl camper who signed up for flag football then designed plays for her to score touchdowns.
“Sam was so good. As good as she was in volleyball, I thought she was even better in football,” Huser said. “She is great person with a wonderful personality and leadership skills.”
Samantha says she is merely passing on the fun and fundamentals she learned when she was about the same age.
“They should have fun,” Samantha said. “They should enjoy their youth.”
That goes for everything. From volleyball to football.