Spotlight

Sam Anas '11 Alumni Spotlight

Sam pictured here with his parents, Peter and Demetra, during his senior year

 

Sam Anas ’11 spent a lot of time this summer at Landon, mostly in the weight room with his fellow alums preparing for the NHL training camp that starts in mid-September. He is a familiar face here at Landon, especially for the huge following of hockey fans on campus. As a senior at Landon, he was on the very first hockey team to make it to the State Championships and to tout an undefeated season. It was nice to have him back on Bear turf though, because although his family still lives in Bethesda, he has spent the last 10 years playing hockey all over the country. As a starter at Quinnipiac University, Sam led the university in scoring in his first three seasons; leading the team to the NCAA championship game and earning himself the honor of first team All American.

Sam is no stranger to hard work, a value he says he learned from both his parents and Landon teachers. His late mother, Demetra (Deme), was a prosecutor for the federal government who led by example, often bringing work home after a long day at the office. Sam notes that her family was always her focus and Sam got his love of cooking from watching her in the kitchen. He comments that from work to cooking and everything in between, she did it all “full throttle,” and Sam approaches hockey with that same work ethic.

Sam spent four seasons with the Minnesota Wild’s AHL affiliate the Iowa Wild.  After those four years, he signed a two year two-way contract with the St. Louis Blues where he played for affiliated teams, Utica Comets then Springfield Thunderbirds. It was in Springfield that Sam was awarded the AHL Fred T. Hunt Memorial Award, given to the AHL player who best exemplifies the qualities of sportsmanship, determination, and dedication. “I was really surprised and felt so honored because this award is voted on by the players and coaches,” said Sam. “I hadn’t really thought that much about the motto we learned in the Landon’s Lower School until that day - “Be honest, do your best, and help the other fellow” -but I realized it was engrained in me.” 

Sam was a 10-year student at Landon and remembers a particular lesson that he learned in Randy Bednar’s fourth grade class.  “I loved that year because Mr. Bednar was a guy’s guy who really related to his students. I remember a game he used to play with us every week. Each Monday he gave us a paper with 50 facts about a particular subject, such as, sports, marine life or history. You had to memorize the 50 facts and on Thursday Mr. Bednar would go around the room randomly asking each of us these questions. If we got all 50 correct, we would get a reward of donuts on Friday morning. But if even one person got a question wrong, we lost that week. That game really showed me the true meaning of teamwork; it taught me that you have to want to succeed for everyone not just yourself, because if I didn’t do my best, everyone in the class lost.”

Fast forward to Sam’s senior year at Landon where team work certainly paid off. The ice hockey team had an undefeated season and beat Dematha Catholic High School to become the state champions. Sam was named The Washington Post 2011 All-Met Player of the Year!

Although winning the 2011 state championship was Sam’s greatest high school memory, Sam told us about an equally important day on the ice for him. One night every year, hockey teams across the country take the ice  wearing pick jerseys and skate on pink ice in support of breast cancer awareness.. While playing on the Iowa Wild, Sam was joined on the pink ice by his mother, Deme, who had been battling breast cancer since he was only 3 years old. “It was such an honor to be on center ice with her because she is the strongest person I know. She never once complained while undergoing treatment for her breast cancer that she battled 3 times,” Sam commented. “It was a very emotional moment, as together we dropped the puck…and then in my mom’s typical get down to business fashion, she said, ‘now go play the game.'” Deme lost her battle with cancer in August 2020, but Sam and his whole family plan to “dive more into the cause.” It will always be something they do to honor her.

When asked what advice he would give ice hockey players at Landon, he said, “Everyone is concerned about where they are going to college and want to go to a big-name hockey school. But I think it’s better to be a big fish in a small pond. Go to a place where you will have the opportunity to play and master your skills.” Sound advice coming from a guy who graduated from college in 3 years and signed his first NHL contract that year.

Sam will be hearing the familiar chant, “Go Bears,” when he hits the ice this year as he signed with the Hershey Bears, an affiliate of the Washington Capitals, for the 2022-2023 season. He will be living his dream of being part of the Washington Capitals organization and will be attending training camp with them this fall. We are excited to be able to watch him for another season, but Sam says when his playing career is over he doesn’t think he will ever stray far from the ice rink. He would like to do “something with his business degree in hockey on the office side.”