Samie Sabbah

sammie-successs-storyOn a recent Monday at 5:30 p.m., USF senior Samie Sabbah was on his way to class after a day that saw him going fairly non-stop for the previous 12 hours. It was just a normal day in the life of this hard¬working student-athlete, a four-year offensive lineman on the Fighting Saints football team.

He had awoken, as he does so many mornings these days, at 5 a.m. in order to be out the door and on his way to his student-teaching job at Bolingbrook High School (BHS), his alma mater. There, he teaches two classes: Government, and World Cultures, and he pitches in as an assistant coach of the wrestling team.

Sabbah will graduate from USF in December with a bachelor’s degree in history and secondary education. If things continue to go his way, he will land a full-time job at BHS but at the very least he will be in the system as a regular substitute teacher.

“If somebody retires or leaves at the end of the year and a job opens up, I’d like to be back at Bolingbrook,” he says. One of the things he loves most about teaching there is that he walked those very same halls — grew up right down the street — and can relate to his students as well as anyone. History students need to learn their dates and the significant events that came before them but they also need someone to show them what is possible in their future.

“I was just plugging USF to my kids the other day,” Sabbah says. “I told them that it’s a great learning environment. The only drawback is, it can be hard to pay for.” Luckily for them, there are scholarships available for the right students. Sabbah himself was the recipient of a scholarship, thanks to his talents on the football field. With this in mind, he tells his students to keep the future— and the present—in focus. Work on your sports and your academics, he tells them. Make sure you get in all of the AP classes you can.

“I wish I could have done more of that when I was in high school,” he says of AP classes. “So I try to get them to learn from my mistakes. That is what I am really good at — relating my own experiences to them.”

Sabbah plans to stay in touch with his former professors well into his teaching career. He also would love to keep coaching. The 6-foot, 300-pounder has excelled in every aspect of his student-athlete experience at USF, earning all-conference and all-district honors for both athletics and academics. As if that were not enough, he is also an accomplished Mixed Martial Arts fighter.

While other colleges expressed interest in Sabbah when he was a high school athlete, he signed with USF the day he visited campus, a decision he is still happy he made. After graduating from BHS with 700-plus classmates, he soon found himself in a much more intimate setting.

“At USF I literally had a class that had three other students in it,” he says. “You get to build really strong relationships with the other students and with your professors. You’re never a number.” Except when you are a vital member of your football team’s offensive line for four years.

In that case, you are a number, and for Sabbah, a Fighting Saint whose contribution will be remembered for a long time, that number was 65.