Nearly 8 years after kicking his first field goal for his high school team, Pace Alum Sam Sloman is still excelling in his craft in the NFL. Sloman is currently a field goal kicker on the Pittsburgh Steelers practice squad.
Sloman’s football career began his junior year at Pace. In his first two years of high school, Sloman played for the Pace varsity soccer team before making the life-changing switch to football. “I would always regret not playing [football] in high school,” said Sloman, having grown up a Falcons fan. During his two years of playing high school football, he helped lead the team to win their only state championship so far which he described as “the coolest feeling in the world … It is still one of my two favorite football memories to this day,” he said. The second was “winning a MAC championship in college” at Miami University of Ohio back in 2019.
After graduating from the Miami University of Ohio, where he was a semifinalist for the Lou Groza Award given to the nation’s top collegiate place-kicker, Sloman was drafted 248th overall by the Los Angeles Rams in the 7th and final round of the 2020 NFL Draft. He still remembers the exciting moment of getting the call in where he was notified that his dream of playing in the NFL would come true. “I wasn’t necessarily expecting to get drafted, and I wasn’t gonna be too surprised if I did get drafted,” said Sloman. “When the 7th round of the draft started, I got texts from all three teams [ the Los Angeles Rams, Tennessee Titans and New York Jets] I was talking to, and I thought that there may be a chance.” Sloman watched the entire draft, and he was ready to just stop watching until “I got a call from a California number. I figured it was the Rams, so I answered,” he said. “It was Les Snead, [the general manager of the Rams], and he asked me if I wanted to come kick for the Rams.” Sloman described getting the call as “a surreal experience.”
An important milestone in Sloman’s professional career was kicking the division-winning field goal for the Tennessee Titans as time expired in the last game of the regular season, which was Sloman’s only last second field goal to win a game at any level. “With COVID protocols last year, the Tennessee Titans decided they were gonna have a practice squad kicker, punter and long snapper who were kept completely separate from the rest of the team, so I would practice with the other two guys and that was it,” said Sloman. He did not know any of his teammates other than the two he practiced with. “Even on the day of the game, I got to my locker and shook hands with the guy next to me and introduced myself … The feeling was indescribable,” said Sloman. “I didn’t really know anybody, but they did a great job the whole game, just having my back and getting excited for me.”
During the offseason, Sloman spends his time preparing for the season ahead. “I work out outside of Cleveland with former football player Jason Trusnik and 3 other guys,” said Sloman. “On Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday, we do conditioning and lifting … On Wednesday, we do yoga. I kick on Wednesday and Saturday with those guys. I keep that pretty consistent until July, which is when we start getting ready for camp.” In July, Sloman does less conditioning and practices more kicking in preparation for a month long camp.
As a practice squad kicker, Sloman still uses advice he received at Pace to thrive in the NFL; the most valuable piece being, “how to react to things that life throws at you that you can’t control.” Over the course of his football career, Sloman has learned one fundamental lesson that he recommends to others with dreams of playing sports in college and potentially professionally. “You have to believe in yourself,” says Sloman, “because in order for anyone else to believe in you, you have to show that you believe in yourself. You’re gonna have to work hard, and it’s not gonna be easy, but it’s definitely gonna be worth it.”