Sam Tourtillott: Dual Sport Dedication

Sam Tourtillott, a Dixon native and standout student-athlete at Rock Valley College (RVC), has had a journey filled with triumphs and challenges.

Sam Tourtillott

Sam Tourtillott, RVC dual sport athlete.

Tourtillott chose RVC for its welcoming atmosphere, strong culture, and the opportunity to excel in both basketball and softball. Initially recruited by Coach Darryl Watkins for women’s basketball, she was later given the chance to play both sports by Athletic Director & Head Coach Darin Monroe.

Pursuing a psychology degree with initial plans to enter the nursing program, Sam's time at RVC has been transformative. Her sophomore year was particularly memorable as she competed in nationals for both sports. For basketball, the team entered as the undefeated #3 seed, expected to dominate. For softball, they were the #13 seed, underdogs who managed to pull off significant upsets. These experiences, shared with teammates who had amazing chemistry, are ones she cherishes deeply.

Coach Monroe acknowledged that being a college athlete in one sport is tough and for two years Sam made the commitment to being a part of two nationally recognized programs in basketball and softball at RVC. “She was able to participate in 3 NJCAA National Tournaments while being a member of these sports. Sam flourished on the softball field and capped it off with our first Top 10 finish at the NJCAA D2 National Tournament in May, while also being recognized as our 1st ever NJCAA D2 All-American.”

However, Sam's journey has not been without its obstacles. Last fall, she suffered a severe injury while playing softball, breaking her collarbone in three places, and sustaining a concussion. The injury occurred as she was running to first base and tripped over the first baseman's foot. Her recovery process involved surgery and eight weeks of rest, during which she was eager to return to the court.

Despite the setback, Sam remained a dedicated leader. Coach Watkins frequently heard her enthusiasm: "Hey I get cleared today, hey I get cleared today," he recalls. Even while sidelined, she learned valuable lessons about the game, gaining a new perspective by watching and adapting. "It was definitely a challenge," she admits, "but I learned a lot more sitting on the sidelines than I have playing."

Coach Watkins is proud of Sam’s continued commitment and dedication as a stand-out dual athlete at RVC. “Sam made a choice when she committed to Rock Valley a choice to commit to excellence. Being a dual-sport athlete isn't just about trying to master sets of skills in completely different sports, but it's about the relentless pursuit of perfection. While chasing that perception of greatness there is a constant challenge of balancing two worlds, and the ability to adapt and thrive in those competitive environments speaks volumes about the student athlete Sam is. Sam was a part of the first Women's Basketball program to finish the regular season with a 30-0 record also while helping the program reach heights of 34 wins which is the most ever."

Balancing academics and athletics, especially during her recovery, was tough. Yet, with the support of her teammates and the resources at RVC, she managed to overcome the difficulties. The student center and online services helped Sam manage her academic responsibilities.

Reflecting on her growth at RVC, Sam acknowledges the personal development she has undergone. Her advice to prospective RVC students is simple: get involved. Engage with classmates, join clubs, and create new friendships. "Rock Valley is a community," she says, "but you must make the effort to join it."