In Memoriam: Stanford volleyball player Sam Wopat, 19
It was only last summer that Samantha (Sam) Wopat was touring China with her teammates on the Stanford women's volleyball team. There were plenty of photos of the team, and Sam, as they toured.
It was an enjoyable time, one that the team will cherish following Wopat's unexpected death last weekend.
Wopat, 19, died Sunday following a week- long battle after a medical emergency in her Stanford residence, the university announced Monday.
Wopat, surrounded by family, friends and teammates, was hospitalized on Saturday, March 17, and remained in the intensive care unit of Stanford Hospital until her death. The cause of death is currently not known.
"We are deeply saddened by the passing of Sam Wopat," Stanford athletic director Bob Bowlsby said. "She was an integral member of the Stanford Athletics family and a tremendous student and athlete. On behalf of our administration, coaches and students I extend my condolences to Sam's siblings, parents, relatives and friends. Stanford University and the women's volleyball program have lost a wonderful young woman."
Wopat joined the Stanford women's volleyball team in 2010, along with her twin sister, Carly, and excelled as an outside hitter. Sam appeared in 25 sets as a sophomore and averaged 1.16 kills per set. As a freshman, she saw action in 11 sets and registered a .571 season hitting percentage.
Said Stanford women's coach John Dunning, who was obviously shocked by the news: "I can't imagine what they're (the Wopat family) is going through," he said in a TV interview on Monday. "Her sister (Carly) has been amazingly strong."
Dunning said his women's volleyball team was to begin spring practice this week, but that had been delayed due to Wopat's death.
Added Stanford women's basketball coach Tara VanDerveer: ""When things happen . . . We dealt with it directly with our team. We remind the team that if you get into a situation where you feel so overwhelmed, we're here for you."
Prior to enrolling at Stanford, Wopat was a member of the 2010 U.S. Women's Junior National Team. In 2009, she participated in Thailand as a member of the U.S. Youth National Team that competed at the World Championships. She was a member of Junior Olympic teams in 2006, 2007 and 2008.
Information about a memorial to celebrate Wopat's life will be shared as it becomes available.
Samantha Alohilani Wopat was born on Oct. 13, 1992 in Santa Barbara. She was a 2010 graduate of Dos Pueblos High School in Goleta, where she lettered in volleyball, track and field and basketball. She and her sister were both named the 2010 Dos Pueblos High School Top Female Athlete.
"The Dos Pueblos family is heartbroken over the passing of Sam Wopat," Dan Feldhaus, the high school athletic director, told the Santa Barbara Independent. "She was a great athlete, a great person, and a role model. Our sympathies go out to the Wopat family."
As a senior, Wopat led her team in kills and aces. She helped lead the team to the CIF Division 1A Southern California title. She was considered one of the nation's top volleyball players in PrepVolleyball's Senior Aces rankings. In 2009, she was named a PreVolleyball High School All-American and a Volleyball Magazine Second Team All-American.
She also played for the Santa Barbara Volleyball Club, which won the 2010 Southern California Junior National Qualifier.
Wopat is survived by her parents, Ron and Kathy Wopat of Santa Barbara, her twin sister, Carly, who is also a member of the Stanford women's volleyball team; and two younger brothers, Jackson and Eli.
According to a post on "Volley Talk," there were cards supporting Wopat at the Stanford men's volleyball alumni match in Maples Pavilion on Saturday. A tree on campus has been decorated with cards and other items remembering Wopat.
Reaction on her death included the following comments:
"This is an unbelievable loss. My condolences to the Wopat and Stanford families. Simply unbelievable . . . This is so sad. I can't stop thinking about her, she was too young. Life is so unfair sometimes . . . My stomach literally just dropped. So devastating to hear. Sending lots of positive vibes to her family/friends . . . Our small volleyball community has lost a beautiful and gentle soul . . . We are truly heartbroken over this devastating and unfathomable tragedy and send our deepest condolences to the Wopat family, the Stanford volleyball players and program and the closely-knit Santa Barbara/Dos Pueblos volleyball communities. You have lost a wonderful person; may her light continue to shine through all of you . . . As a member of the Stanford Volleyball family, it breaks my heart that we have lost such a talented young woman. My heart goes out to her family, her teammates, her coaches, her friends and most of all to her twin sister, Carly. Prayers for all."