Five pins

Four-time National Collegiate Wrestling champ Samantha Frank is heading into a nursing career.


Samantha Frank:
(Push up, push down. OK, wiggle your fingers and toes. Good.)

I wanted to be a nurse since I was two years old, which is crazy, because I don’t remember. We were leaving the hospital one day, my dad’s dad was in the hospital in and out when I was younger.

I guess I looked up to my parents, and I said, “I’m going to be a nurse one day, so that I can take care of people like Popeye.”

Here I am now in my fourth year. It’s hard. It’s really hard. I think the biggest thing for me is that I have the heart. I care so much about people, and I’ll deliver the best care. I necessarily don’t have the knowledge, but I think I’ll learn that.

What people tell me is that you can’t learn to have a heart, you just have to have it.

It started in seventh grade, and I really wanted to play football. I went to my dad, and was like, “Dad, I want to play football. I think it will be great, that’s what I want to do.”

He was like, “Absolutely not. There’s no way.” I was probably three feet, two inches, 60 pounds. The other guys in my grade are five‑foot‑three, 200 pounds. He’s like, “Try wrestling.” I tried it and I was pretty good. My coach took me right under his wing.

Aaron James:
There are hundreds and hundreds of wrestlers and the state of Maine high school wrestlers that don’t have an opportunity to continue their wrestling career. Through the NCWA, the National Collegiate Wrestling Association, they give you an opportunity for schools that don’t have varsity NCAA programs to compete on the next level.

UMaine was courageous enough to let us do this here.

Samantha Frank:
I think that we get this misconception of being a club and not very serious, and this, “Ah, a bunch of scrubs that come to school,” like an inner‑mirror‑do‑it‑for‑fun type deal, but it’s far from that. Yes, it is fun, but we’re very serious.

Aaron James:
(There you go, Sam.)

Sam knows how to wrestle.

(There it is, Sam.)

She has the grit and determination to fight out of certain positions. Grit and toughness isn’t something that you or I can teach somebody. It’s something that you’re born with, and she was lucky enough to have that.

I don’t know if it was because she had an older brother. Maybe she got teased her whole life, I don’t know what the case was.

Then she went on and went to nationals, made it all the way to the finals.

Samantha Frank:
I don’t look at the brackets because that psyches me out, so my coach did all this scouting, all this, all that. I just went and did whatever. I didn’t know she was the three‑time national champ.

I knew she was an all‑American, but I didn’t know she was three‑time national champ. I got out there, it was a pretty good match. One or two‑point difference, I was down. Got a reversal, I was up.

Let her up, then she shot in on me. I just caught her in the right movement, threw her to her back and stuck her. It was like I jumped up. I blacked out, I think, I didn’t jump out. There’s a picture of me, my hands are up in the air, I was so excited.

I just ran up to my coach and jumped in his arms. He was crying, he was like, “I’m so proud of you. You’re my first national champ.” It was overwhelming, I don’t know. It was pretty cool, though.

Aaron James:
That was the beginning of Sam Frank’s reign at that weight class for the University of Maine in the NCWA.

Samantha Frank:
I definitely think that after my first national championship, my goal was ultimately to get all four years. The second year, I was halfway there. When I won the third year, I was like, “I will remember this feeling all next‑year training, because I won’t let anyone take my fourth championship away.”

It scares me beyond belief that I have the biggest target on my back.

I was saying to myself the whole day, “This is your last match ever, make it what you’ve trained for. 12 years of wrestling, don’t let it go to waste. Wrestle to the best of your ability in this final match.”

We are back to action here in the NCWA finals. One of two premiere women’s matches, going 101 pounds, Samantha Frank. Your top seed from Maine.

Right ankle bends, blue singlet, she’s got her on her back. Neck wrench. We might get a fall here, folks.

That’s going to do it, 31 seconds. Samantha Frank, she has somewhere to be tonight. I don’t know where, but it’s not Allen, Texas.

Samantha Frank:
I think I was blacked out, still.

My goodness.

Samantha Frank:
I tell you, I don’t know what happens when I wrestle. I just remember I was, “Oh my gosh, thank God. I just won, I can’t believe this. I’m done wrestling.” Just so many emotions going on, I didn’t know whether to be happy or sad or, “Is it really over? Is this a dream? Am I going to wake up?”

Aaron James:
She won. You cannot do more than what she did in her four years here at UMaine wrestling. You can’t do better than what she did, you just can’t.

Samantha Frank:
It was even cooler when I got my fourth Outstanding Wrestler award.

Aaron James:
First ever four‑time most outstanding wrestler in the country, which is a huge honor. Who knows if that will ever be accomplished again.

Samantha Frank:
Wrestling has been my highlight of college. That’s where I’m excelling in, where my great experiences are coming from. My main focus is nursing. I’m determined to be a nurse, and whatever it takes, I’ll do that.

I’m not really helping anybody by wrestling. In nursing, I have that opportunity to help people.