Sam Gordon, football star
Nine-year-old Sam Gordon is experiencing a YouTube-inspired whirlwind with which few people on Earth can identify.
It started in early November, almost immediately after her dad uploaded a video showing her dazzling display of speed and instincts in her Utah hometown this fall – on the football field against boys.
She scored 25 touchdowns and 10 extra points in 11 games.
After Brent Gordon posted a link to the highlight video of Sam on a Brigham Young University forum, the number of views of the clip shot up by the thousands each hour – and the phone started ringing.
The Ellen Show called first, followed by Good Morning America, ESPN and The NFL Network.
As a result, Sam’s football video quickly jumped to almost 5 million views.
Well, the Wheaties team saw what was happening with Sam and wanted to recognize her too.
During Sam’s second appearance on Good Morning America on Nov. 21, the show’s hosts unveiled her very own custom-made Wheaties box, similar to the real boxes that high-profile athletes receive.
Sam told me, in this audio clip, what she thought of her Wheaties box when she first saw it.
She tweeted a photo of the box, after the show.
— Sam Gordon (@Sam_Gordon6) November 21, 2012
“The best part was she didn’t see the box until it was unveiled on live TV, so that was a very genuine reaction,” says Dave Oehler, associate marketing manager for Wheaties, who met Sam in New York during the live broadcast.
“We wanted to recognize Sam for her accomplishments, but also for the circumstances – playing with a bunch of boys – as well as the way she’s handled herself. She’s determined and fearless, not to mention pretty darn fast. This custom box is our way of supporting her, recognizing her hard work and hopefully this recognition inspires her to keep going,” Dave says.
Brent says the Wheaties box was a nice surprise.
“I think that it was really special for Sam to get some recognition like that. I thought it was really fun for her.”
I had a great time talking with Sam on the phone. Especially when I asked her about her football skills, and what she would hear from the players and coaches on the opposing teams, as you’ll hear in this audio clip.
Brent told me he hopes the attention Sam has received inspires other girls to play football, and other sports, with boys.
“I really would hope that parents out there would give it a try and have their daughters play football, because Sam’s probably not an anomaly,” he says.
Sam, who says soccer is her favorite sport, looks forward to at least one more year of football.
But if her high school’s football coach ever asks her to play she told me she’s ready with an answer.
“I’m just gonna say I’ve had my run, now it’s time to go to soccer,” says Sam.
In addition to TV interviews over the past few weeks, Sam received a big thrill when she was able to meet and practice with the U.S. Women’s National soccer team last Friday.
They posted this video about Sam’s visit.
Sam tweeted a photo to Abby Wambach afterward, who helped arrange her visit with the team.
“The entire experience that she’s had has been just a really fun opportunity for Sam and I think that’s how she’s handling it. These are all really fun experiences that she’ll remember the rest of her life,” says Brent.
Personally, I don’t think Sam’s done in the limelight just yet, so I’ll be keeping my eyes on her in the years ahead.
How about you?