Needless to say, it wasn’t the most conventional college freshman year for Kearny native Samantha Osorio at Moravian College in Pennsylvania.
Osorio, the 2019-2020 Observer Female Athlete of the Year out of Kearny High School, had to endure the pandemic-stricken school year at Moravian, one that resulted in just 10 games played.
“The adjustment to college life was difficult, especially because of the pandemic,” said Osorio, one of the best all-around players to ever come out of Kearny High. “I couldn’t see friends. I couldn’t go out. I was totally quarantined. I got tested three times a week. So all of that did take some getting used to. I was able to go to some classes.”
But 10 games doesn’t exactly make a season. It’s more like an extended scrimmage period.
“It was really difficult,” Osorio said. “In the beginning, I had no clue what I was doing. I had to be up for the challenge.”
As it turned out, Osorio was definitely ready for the challenge, averaging almost 10 points per game and 7.5 rebounds per outing. She recorded career-highs with 19 points and 11 rebounds, ironically at Drew, a school that was recruiting Osorio out of high school. Osorio shot an outstanding 52 percent from the floor. Twice, Osorio was named the Landmark Conference Rookie of the Week.
Although Osorio is able to retain her status as a freshman at Moravian, it’s doubtful that she will be eligible to receive any rookie awards this season because she played 10 games. But Osorio still has four years of basketball at Moravian, a place where Osorio is comfortable and loves playing basketball and going to school.
“I really enjoyed the year,” Osorio said. “I couldn’t miss out on the year. I didn’t hesitate or second guess myself. I wasn’t going to allow the pandemic to just stand in my way. I was able to stay on top of everything.”
Osorio admitted that she was indeed a little nervous before her first game against Lancaster Bible College.
“The first game, I had no idea who was going to start,” Osorio said. “But then, I saw my name on this tape with the starting five’s name on it. I could almost cry. I had no clue whatsoever about starting.”
Once the game started, Osorio showed no nervous jitters, scoring 14 points in her debut.
“I don’t think I was psyching myself out, thinking there was a big change from high school to college,” Osorio said. “I knew I could do it. The first game, I had my teammates and coaches helping me. They made me play carefree.”
Osorio knew that there were aspects to her game that needed to be worked on.
For one, she is no longer relegated to playing bigger than her 5-foot-9 frame. The coaching staff at Moravian has Osorio playing out on the wing, where she can run the floor freely and cause more damage. Running and especially jumping are Osorio’s two biggest assets. No other female can jump the way Osorio does with her quick feet and strong legs.
“I did jell with my teammates from the very first day,” Osorio said. “We hit it off, both on and off the court.”
Osorio has spent the last few weeks at home in Kearny, playing a lot of hoops in the Osorio driveway with younger sister Nathalie, a rising junior on the Kearny High squad.
Osorio has also been playing with her Moravian teammates in a summer league that Osorio travels to play twice a week. That’s two hours there, then the game, and finally two hours back home.
“It’s a good workout,” Osorio said. “I take advantage of that any chance I get. I don’t think it’s too far of a drive.”
Osorio is majoring in health science and occupational therapy at Moravian. She will remain in Kearny until the end of August.
“I can’t wait to go back and play a full season,” Osorio said. “Getting those 10 games in really helped me. But I want to get back to normal. I have to take what I learned in those 10 games and just improve on what I did. I’m really excited about it. We’ll get to travel this year and we won’t have to wear masks. Once we get back to school, I’ll be able to pick up where I left off, lifting weights together. It’s going to be exciting.”
As long as Sam Osorio continues to do what she does best, which is being Sam Osorio.
A year ago, Samantha Osorio (right) received her Observer Female Athlete of the Year award and another former Observer Female Athlete of the Year Stefanie Gomes (left) was on hand for the presentation. Osorio completed a successful freshman campaign at Moravian College, where she was named the Landmark Conference Rookie of the Week twice. Photo by Jim Hague
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Jim Hague | Observer Sports Writer
Sports Writer Jim Hague was with The Observer for 20+ years — and his name is one of the most recognizable in all of sports journalism. The St. Peter’s Prep and Marquette alum kicked off his journalism career post Marquette at the Daily Record, where he remained until 1985. Following shorts stints at two other newspapers, in September 1986, he joined the now-closed Hudson Dispatch, where he remained until 1991, when its doors were finally shut.
It was during his tenure at The Dispatch that Hague’s name and reputation as one of country’s hardest-working sports reporters grew. He won several New Jersey Press Association and North Jersey Press Club Awards in that timeframe.
In 1991, he became a columnist for The Hudson Reporter chain of newspapers — and he remains with them to this day.
In addition to his work at The Observer and The Hudson Reporter, Hague is also an Associated Press stringer, where he covers Seton Hall University men’s basketball, New York Red Bulls soccer and occasionally, New Jersey Devils hockey.
He’s also doing work at The Morristown Daily Record, the very newspaper where his journalism career began.
During his career, he also worked for Dorf Feature Services, which provided material for the Star-Ledger. While there, he covered the New York Knicks and the New Jersey Nets.
Hague is also known for his announcing work — and he’s done PA work for Rutgers Newark and NJIT.
Hague is the author of the book “Braddock: The Rise of the Cinderella Man.”