ASL blog: what inspires me

Once a varsity Eagle, always a varsity Eagle—and now a retired pro soccer player who brings his love of the game to his job as a broadcaster for a Major League Soccer team. Lloyd Sam ’02 was a competitive footballer for 20 years, starting at Canons Park under coaches Bob Carter (ASL 1969-2014) and Martin Hackett (ASL 1986-2010). It was Mr. Hackett who brought Grade 9 student Lloyd to the youth team of Charlton Athletic Football Club, where he eventually made his professional debut and launched his career. 

“Mr. Hackett helped me so much,” Lloyd recently recalled. “He believed in me, and I did not want to let him down.” Lloyd would go on to play for Leeds United, the New York Red Bulls, D.C. United and Miami Football Club, among others, before hanging up his cleats to begin a new chapter as a commentator for Charlotte Football Club in Charlotte, North Carolina. “I think I’m the only player in the world who has played in the top four leagues in England and in the US,” he shared. “That gives me a unique expertise to bring to my broadcasting.”

Lloyd has much to be proud of in the two decades that have unfolded since he graduated from ASL, but he will always be grateful for those formative experiences he gained at One Waverley Place. From Alternatives in Venice and France to winning the ISSTs and the respect of then high school dean Kevin Conaty (ASL 1991-2017), Lloyd learned lessons in hard work, friendship and cooperation that still inform his life today. 
“To this day, I consider myself to be a communicator and a people person, and I think ASL has a lot to do with that.”

Communication is key
“There are so many different kinds of people at ASL, and it is eye-opening. Where I lived in South London was nothing like the ASL vibe. I learned about different cultures and experiences from other students who didn’t have the upbringing I had, and I had to figure it out—how to communicate with people from different walks of life. To this day, I consider myself to be a communicator and a people person, and I think ASL has a lot to do with that.”

Appreciate your people
“Everyone in my family is a role model for me. Everywhere I go, I’m told I was raised well; that goes to my parents. When I first joined Charlton Athletic Youth Academy under-16 team, it was a real mission to get me to evening practices three times a week. I have to give a shout-out to my mom because she used to get the train with me, eventually learning to drive so she could transport me herself. It was tough. I am also grateful for the sports knowledge and physical gifts that my dad gave me. He did some football coaching, worked for Aspire Academy in Qatar and played both hockey and cricket for the Ghana national teams. He mentored and coached me from a very young age. Then there’s my older brother, Andrew Sam ’00, who laid the tracks for me and has a lot to do with my success. He was bigger and stronger than I was. It toughened me up, and it helped me stay in the game for 19 years. We played varsity soccer at ASL for two years together; that was so cool. How often do you get to do that? He was a striker, and I was in midfield. Those are some of my greatest memories. Andrew got a scholarship to Cal State Fullerton, and now he works at the Union of European Football Associations (UEFA) in Switzerland.”

Don’t be afraid to make mistakes
“In soccer, in life, it’s all about how you respond to setbacks. This is what I would preach to the kids I used to coach—to let a mistake make you better. Let it spur you on on the next occasion. I wish I had known that earlier.”

Embrace change
“When I retired from football after 19 years, I worried about what I would do next. I was blessed with a long career, from London to New York, Washington, DC, and Miami. I dabbled in coaching, but I have always loved commentary. I was given the chance to commentate on a few matches when I was living in Miami, and each game I got better at it. Soon I went from co-broadcasting matches in the United Soccer League to doing international matches in Canada on my own. That’s how I made my name. I wasn’t trained in play-by-play, but I know how to make it personal. Landing a job on the broadcasting team for Charlotte Football Club is a huge accomplishment. This is the team’s first season, so it makes it even more special. I get to set a standard. This new role helped me realize that I’m going to be alright. It switched me from thinking, ‘Where can I go after I stop playing?’ to: ‘Whoever has me is really gaining something special.’ I understand my worth.”
Advice for the Class of 2022 
“Enjoy the ride, and give it everything you’ve got.”