By: Audrey Blanchard, Asha Smith, Jake Loskutoff, Lily Hughes, Julian Imperiale, Jack Pedrotti, Ben Singler, and Pier Sanchez Orozco
On September 29th, 2020, Lily Hughes and Julian Imperiale interviewed Sam Fraley. Sam Fraley is a former Sequoia student who graduated in 2017, and he played football during his time at Sequoia. Initially, he was on track to go to UT Austin until he was thrown a curveball when he was diagnosed with GBS in 2017 around the time of graduation. GBS (Guillain-Barré Syndrome) is a rare autoimmune condition where the immune system attacks the nervous system. For Sam Fraley, GBS quickly escalated from a mild headache to severe migraines, poor vision, and inability to stand up. He was rushed to the hospital, spent time in the ICU, and was eventually diagnosed. Due to the effects of GBS, he was unable to attend his graduation and was told he wouldn’t be able to go to college for another year. After spending that summer in the hospital, he went on to defy the odds and play football at Foothill College and now is a long snapper for D1 school Temple University.
Question 1:How do you feel about playing a game during COVID times? What do you think will be different?
Sam Fraley said that playing during COVID would definitely be an adjustment, especially for him, as he is already adjusting from moving to a new area and going from a Junior College to a Division 1 School. He noted that while the summer and fall camps have been unusual, he’s definitely glad that his team has followed the protocol and stayed safe so that they are still able to play. “It’s just been important to take it day by day and just remain focused on my goals and really not taking anything for granted because of how uncertain everything is,” he finished.
Question 2: What kept you motivated throughout your experience with GBS?
Sam Fraley described how he motivated himself through his mindset. Fraley felt he had no other choice but to get better and get back to his old self. He did not want his limitations and illness to be the things that defined him and controlled his choices in life. A key moment Fraley describes was a conversation between a doctor and himself. Fraley states that the doctor told him that he would have to stay home for at least a year before he went to college, and this made Fraley more motivated to recover from his illness. Fraley states, “I didn’t want to accept that and I didn’t want it to limit me, so I just kinda pushed myself to do whatever I could to get my old-self back and weirdly enough that came through football.”
Question 3: What was the most important lesson you learned from the whole experience?
Sam talks about the importance of pushing yourself and staying true to your ambitions, but he also states that it was difficult to cope with the sudden trauma and that certain parts of his life have permanently changed. He also says that it has helped him open up and be able to comfortably talk about his GBS, and how he’s overcoming these new obstacles coming at him.
Question 4: What advice would you give to student-athletes that get severely injured?
Sam talks about staying positive through tough injuries and through challenges that some will go through in their career. He also said to give yourself some slack because sometimes there is nothing you can do. He also said to be positive about your goals but to be honest about your challenges and struggles.
Sam Fraley has come across many challenges to get to this point in his life. He discussed how when he was in the hospital, he stayed motivated because he felt he had no other choice than to try to get better, and he didn’t want GBS to limit him. Sam also talks about how it’s important to stay positive and true to your ambitions, as well as to be honest about whatever challenges you face. Through perseverance and hard work, he is now playing for Temple University’s football team. They play their first game of the season against Navy this Saturday at 3pm on CBS Sports. The link to the full interview with Sam is here