PLYMOUTH – Plymouth high school has a new Assistant Athletic Director that many people in the community will see as a very familiar face.
Sam Sturtevant spent part of his growing up years in the Plymouth schools and after time away at school and the NBA has stepped right in to the hectic world of COVID-19 high school athletics.
Sam started school at Plymouth and after third grade went to South Bend schools and eventually Lalumiere School in LaPorte. The prep school has one of the nation’s top basketball programs.
“I wasn’t good enough to make the team so they asked me if I wanted to be a manager,” said Sturtevant. “It was an incredible experience traveling all around the country when you’re 15, 16 years old. It was different. I lived on campus and got close with all those guys and it sort of started my drive for being in sports.”
Sam was an athlete himself at Lalumiere.
“My main sport was soccer. I loved playing,” he said. “I may not look like a soccer player now I know. I really wanted to be involved with basketball.”
“The opportunity to be the manager was different than what I thought. I don’t think it was the typical high school experience,” he said. “I always thought it was somebody who just filled up water bottles and all that. But as I grew older I got more responsibilities on the basketball side which kind of pushed me to be a manager in college.”
Sturtevant enrolled at Butler and became deeply involved in another highly successful national program.
“I applied to be a student manager my freshman year with the help of my high school coach and some of the connections he had there,” said Sturtevant. “I didn’t realize how competitive that is. A lot of people apply for that position which I wasn’t aware of.”
“As I grew older and became the head manager my responsibilities changed a little bit so it was less putting the jerseys out and packing for trips and more on the operations and scouting side.”
The experience led him to realize that he wanted to spend his life involved with sports and basketball in particular.
“I started in the business school and decided to make a switch and got a degree in communications a minor in coaching and sports studies,” said Sturtevant. “I’m back getting my masters now online and doing this job. It’s a busy time right now but it’s the time to do it.”
“Butler offered a two-year online MBA program and with the quarantine and COVID, it was just a no brainer to get it out of the way.”
Sam always knew that he wanted to be involved with basketball.
“I loved watching the sport,” he said. “I remember watching the NBA my whole time growing up and I’ve always been drawn to it. It’s more fast-paced I love the athleticism. In my opinion, the athletes in the NBA are probably the best on the planet. How somebody can be so good at dunking a basketball, shooting a basketball, for those guys it’s like clockwork. It just drew me to it.”
He got his first opportunity close to home.
“I started off with the Indiana Pacers,” he said. “I was their summer basketball operations intern. It was my first dose of the NBA lifestyle. I was working closely with the GM’s and the President of Basketball Operations and their staff. My main job was to help prepare for the NBA draft.”
“I helped the scouting team and the player personnel team go through the draft workouts and help put together the ‘Draft Book’ to decide who we were going to draft.”
“It was incredible being in that atmosphere,” said Sam. “I got to be in the room during draft night and hear all the conversations. I will never forget that experience because I was with the most powerful people in the organization and they treated me like part of the family.”
“I went on to the Memphis Grizzlies and I got a chance to work in their team operations department,” he said. “It was a more team-oriented job. I still helped the basketball operations staff but I was more integrated with the players and the coaches and got to see the personal side of that. I was more involved with the players.”
Then COVID hit and changed everything.
“They (the Grizzlies) left for the bubble and I decided that I wanted to come back home and get a change of things,” he said. “Gratefully they let me move on.”
“Originally I was just going to be a student at Butler and get the masters out of the way and go back to the NBA but I needed something to do,” said Sam. “I called Ryan Welch (Assistant Principal at Riverside Intermediate in Plymouth) and asked if he had anything and so I was going to be the ISS teacher and coach the basketball team. Then I heard this job was open and I kind of bothered the heck out of Michael (Delp) with ‘hey, I hear there’s an opening?’ It was a two-month process but luckily I was able to get the position.”
Moving from the NBA to high school athletics certainly had to be a culture shock.
“The biggest surprise for me is that everything is on a different level than what I’m used to,” he said. “There isn’t the money or the resources that I’ve had in my previous jobs and navigating through that has been fun and challenging.”
“I came in on a global pandemic so I’m learning all these things COVID style,” said Sam. “When this thankfully is over things will hopefully get easier. I love working here, family is here, I grew up with a lot of people here who knew me and my family and that helps a lot.”
While returning to the NBA was always the long game, Sturtevant admits life at PHS has brought a different perspective.
“Now that I’m here my focus has changed a little bit,” he said. “I wanted to get back to the NBA but I knew that someday I would want to be in the AD world. I just didn’t think it would be this early. I’m very happy with where I’m at and very happy for the opportunity.”