The Kansas State football team will honor the memory of Samantha Scott with a helmet sticker when it takes the field against TCU this weekend.
Scott died from a sudden illness last Saturday at the age of 23 in Manhattan. She was a senior and the top coxswain on the Wildcats’ rowing team this season. A native of Fort Morgan, Colo., she was also an architectural engineering major who earned academic All-Big 12 honors last year while leading the team’s 1v8 and 1v4 boats.
The sudden illness was Lemierre’s Syndrome, a rare and life-threatening bacterial infection that begins in the throat and spreads through lymphatic vessels. Symptons can include sore throat and fever, so the infection is not easily detected. Initial symptoms are followed by swelling of the internal jugular vein.
The infection can spread quickly through the lungs, with bacteria taking over the body if not treated immediately.
Kennidi Cobbley, one of Scott’s best friends from Colorado who has created a gofundme page to help Scott’s family during this difficult time, said her death came by complete surprise.
“It started as tonsillitis and they treated it with antibiotics,” Cobbley said. Then it moved to pneumonia and she was hospitalized and all of a sudden it started attacking all of her organs with her lungs and her heart.”
News of Scott’s death shook everyone close to her.
“She really was a one of a kind person,” Cobbley said. “She was always happy. I don’t think you could find anyone who could say one negative thing about her. She was always willing to help other people, outgoing but still shy a little bit. She was just really unique.”
Her personality shined through on the K-State rowing team. She grew up participating in gymnastics and attended school in Manhattan to learn about architecture. It wasn’t until a friend of a friend shared some interesting stories about the Wildcats’ rowing squad that she decided to give the sport a try.
Before long, she became a successful coxswain. For those unfamiliar with rowing, that position is unique. It doesn’t require any actual rowing, but it does require an energetic person to sit at the back of the boat, steer and shout encouragement at her teammates.
It was a perfect fit for Scott.
“Samantha was a great leader for our program and more importantly a great person,” K-State rowing coach Patrick Sweeney. “She was so well-liked by all of her teammates and had such a big impact on our program both on and off the water. We are all still in a state of shock, and we will continue to keep her family in our thoughts and prayers.”
It’s been difficult for those within the K-State athletic department to focus this week.
“We are all deeply saddened by the sudden passing of Samantha,” K-State athletic director Gene Taylor said. “The Scott family will remain in our prayers during this time, and we will provide all of the necessary support we can for their entire family and also the members of our rowing program as they cope with this devastating loss.”
The K-State football team will honor Scott’s memory with a helmet sticker that features two rowing paddles, her first name and a heart. The Wildcats will also take the field with a modified block of wood that reads “SAMANTHA.”
K-State football players usually exit the locker room with a block that reads “FAMILY.”
Meanwhile, in Colorado, friends and family have helped raise more than $5,000 for the Scott family as they look to pay medical costs and funeral costs. Cobbley set a goal for $10,000 but says she hopes to shatter that mark.
“Spreading the word about the gofundme page is my biggest goal right now,” Cobbley said, “I want to help her family out, because they are really struggling.”
The family has scheduled a “Celebration of Life” for Scott in Fort Morgan, Colo., on Nov. 11 at her old high school.