McCaskey vs Manheim Central-LL Boys Soccer

McCaskey's Sam Hershey (22) attempts a bicycle kick into the Manheim Central goal during first-half action of an L-L League Section 1-2 crossover boys soccer game at Doe Run Elementary School in Manheim on Wednesday Oct. 14, 2020.

Sam Hershey doesn’t quite remember his childhood days when he attended practices at Millersville University, where his dad, Trevor, was the women’s soccer coach from 1994 to 2005.

Nor does he remember the other childhood days tagging along with his mom, Linda Lee, when she was a club soccer coach.

“But my parents tell me that I would cry if we lost,” Hershey said.

Those formative days planted the soccer seeds in Hershey, who has since blossomed into a soccer phenom. Hershey was recently named a United Soccer Coaches Region II All-American.

“It’s crazy to think about it,” Hershey said. “I never would’ve thought when I was younger that this would happen. My grandpa was an All-American in college. Now I’m All-American for high school. It’s a great feeling.”

Hershey’s grandfather, Alvin, was an All-American at Elizabethtown College before going on to coach at Franklin & Marshall College and Lower Dauphin High School. Father Trevor Hershey is a Lower Dauphin alum who played at James Madison before going on to coach at Millersville.

Several years ago, during a Millersville summer camp, Trevor Hershey met Linda Lee (maiden name Papuga), a Baldwin High School alum who put together a Hall of Fame soccer playing career at Gettysburg College. The two soon married and have since had three children, all of them soccer players.

Sam Hershey is the middle child.

“I’ve been kicking a soccer ball pretty much since I could walk,” he said.

Hershey has played every midfield position for McCaskey over the last four seasons. Following a breakout junior campaign (23 goals, 11 assists), he tallied 15 goals and nine assists this past fall. He’s been a key cog for a Red Tornado team that has had a historic two-year run in which they’ve won back-to-back Lancaster-Lebanon League Section Two crowns and reached the L-L title game two years in a row.

“He’s absolutely our leader for the team,” McCaskey ninth-year soccer coach Adam Wood said. “He’s incredibly strong physically. His mental strength has grown over the years as well. He’s largely the reason why the last two years in particular we’ve been really successful.”

Before 2019, the last time McCaskey boys soccer had won a section title was the mid-1990s. Which makes one wonder if Hershey, prior to 2019, saw a struggling McCaskey program and had any thoughts of possibly just sticking to club soccer, similar to what other prep players sometimes choose to do?

“I could’ve went the academy route my freshman year,” Hershey said. “But I wanted to play more sports. . ...and I knew I stuck with it (McCaskey), one of these years we were going to put it all together (in soccer). My junior year was one of my most fun seasons. It was worth it sticking to school ball.”

It should be noted here Hershey plays basketball in the winter and volleyball in the spring. He’s also a two-sport student-athlete in the fall, serving as standout kicker on the football team. He earned L-L all-star football honors as a punter for 2020, and just recently returned from participating in a prestigious Kohl’s kicking camp last weekend.

It’s why Hershey, who holds a 3.7 grade-point average, is still deciding what he’d like to do in college. He has a partial athletic scholarship offer for soccer from NCAA Division II Lock Haven, along with a bunch of interest from D-I and a bunch of D-II schools.

Hershey is also leaving the door open to be a football kicker in college. He said Villanova, Cornell and Bloomsburg have shown interest in his kicking abilities.

“But the D-I rosters are mostly full,” Hershey said. “Because of bunch of seniors are coming back.”

That’s a dilemma a lot of Class of 2020 high school graduates are facing. As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic mostly wiping out college sports since last March, almost all of the college student-athletes on rosters this school year were given an extra year of athletic eligibility, meaning there might not be much room for incoming freshmen next school year.

“It’s why I’m also looking at prep schools for soccer,” Hershey said. “That way I could reclassify and come in as a Class of 2021 player. That would be another option.”

He wants to study education in college, with the goal of becoming a teacher. He also wants to coach soccer. Just like mom and dad.

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