Widgets Magazine

Student-athlete Sam Wopat dies at 19

The Stanford community mourns the loss of sophomore student-athlete Samantha “Sam” Wopat, who died Sunday, March 25, at Stanford Hospital, surrounded by family, friends and teammates. Wopat, a member of the women’s volleyball team, died after a weeklong battle in the intensive care unit of Stanford Hospital. She was hospitalized Saturday, March 17, following a medical emergency in her campus residence, the University announced Monday.

The Stanford community mourns the loss of sophomore student-athlete Sam Wopat. (Courtesy of Stanford Athletics)


“We are deeply saddened by the passing of Sam Wopat,” said Bob Bowlsby, the Jaquish & Kenninger Director of Athletics at Stanford in a University statement. “She was an integral member of the Stanford Athletics family and a tremendous student and athlete. On behalf of our administration, coaches and students I extend my condolences to Sam’s siblings, parents, relatives and friends. Stanford University and the Women’s Volleyball program have lost a wonderful young woman.”


Samantha Alohilani Wopat was born on Oct. 13, 1992 in Santa Barbara. She graduated in 2010 from Dos Pueblos High School in Goleta, Calif., where she lettered in volleyball, track and field and basketball. She and her twin sister, Carly, also a member of the Stanford women’s volleyball team,  were both named the 2010 Dos Pueblos High School Top Female Athlete.


In an October interview with The Daily, Wopat spoke about majoring in English with an emphasis in creative writing.


Wopat joined the Stanford women’s volleyball team in 2010 and excelled as an outside hitter. She appeared in 25 sets as a sophomore and averaged 1.16 kills per set. She saw action in 11 sets as a freshman and registered a .571 season hitting percentage.


Wopat’s athletic successes began well before she enrolled at Stanford. She was a member of Junior Olympic teams in 2006, 2007 and 2008. In 2009 she was a member of the U.S. Youth National Team that competed at the World Championships and in 2010 she competed on the 2010 U.S. Women’s Junior National Team. In 2010 she helped the Santa Barbara Volleyball Club win the 2010 Southern California Junior National Qualifier.


As a high-school senior, Wopat led her team in kills and aces and helped win the CIF Division 1A Southern California title. In 2009, she was named a PrepVolleyball High School All-American and a Volleyball Magazine Second Team All-American. PrepVolleyball’s Senior Aces rankings listed her as one of the nation’s top volleyball players.


Wopat is survived by her parents, Ron and Kathy Wopat of Santa Barbara, Calif.; her twin sister, Carly Wopat ‘14, also a member of the Stanford women’s volleyball team; and two younger brothers, Jackson and Eli.


The Daily will update this post with information about memorials for Wopat as it becomes available.


  • guest

    You should call the Dean of Students

  • guest

    The sad truth is that “closure” doesn’t really exist. And “why” usually doesn’t either.

  • SBVolley

    Samantha Wopat’s smile could light up a room. She had a sparkle that we all will remember and hold close to our hearts.  My children have been impacted in a positive way from knowing and competing alongside Sam. The Wopat’s are one of the most generous and kind families that I have ever met.  Our hearts and prayers are with them at this time. 

  • I live to love

    In answering this, I’m not agreeing with any of the sides here except the side I hope we’re all on, which is sending infinite prayers and love to the Wopat family, Stanford, Dos Pueblos, EVERYONE who knew/knows them. To clarify-if u go to Stanford and you have any tips for psych services or student health, contact them directly. I did and I already graduated a few yrs ago. There are real ways to make a difference without dragging the Wopat family into your campaign. Let this tragedy simply inspire you to step in and help now, rather than rubbernecking. I know it’s often out of fear or curiosity but Stanford has handled this as well as some tragedy like this can be handled.  And I say that as a comm major. As far as insurance-in general, insurance is pretty useless and if you don’t use your insurance AT Stanford Hosp, u do have to pay a cut but I’ve been in icu there and hospitalized many times and they pray basically 100%. There are always issues parents have to iron out, though. As far as the Wopat family setting up a fund–not everyone who goes to Stanford is well-off; TRUST ME. Even if they don’t have huge hosp bills, imagine the travel, time off work, memorial services, grief counseling, struggling to keep going …if we can help them find a way, any way to get through this any bit more easily (should they have to worry about finances now too?) we should. Anyhow, i am not at all against freedom of speech but I think it would be a nice way to honor Sam and everyone, really, if we used this comment thread now to simply send our condolences, love, prayers, happy memories, and positive ways we’ve been inspired by Sam’s life! There are times and places for protests, but the bickering going on here is not helping any interests/agendas. If you want to make a difference, find the right person to contact and privately give suggestions. What’s going on in this thread is not helping; take this from someone who not only has a severe chronic illness but one that, at times, has caused damage to my brain resulting in severe neurological, and at times severe psychiatric disturbances. This tragedy upset me, hit close to home and I felt guilty, like I could’ve maybe said something about my experience to someone sooner and it could’ve helped Sam, even though I never knew her. But as I’ve learned, the only way to move is forward so I took this tragedy as a time to make that difference and sent my student health contacts a letter showing the perspective of a Stanford student suffering from mental difficulties and illnesses, the irrational rationalizations of self-endangering actions that one makes due to being sick and the “after” perspective that breaks down those rationalizations made by an ill mind (which shouldn’t be viewed as “different”–it’s an illness like all illnesses…varying degrees of misery, a number of different ways to find relief) in ways an ill mind would understand. I wrote what I know would’ve helped me and I’m telling you I was really badly off, had seen the inside of psych wards. I had to be supervised 24/7 for a year but the bottom line is, no matter how minor the uneasy feeling, getting help immediately is the way to go! Waiting until you feel like there is nothing to do is more challenging and do know that no matter the severity, your friends will not think differently of you-i have better friends than ever now, i graduated, the only thing i lost was the misery . Now, I’m better than ever and my student health contacts appreciated my input, and said they’d pass it on to those in need. So if you know you have info that can help, contact the right member of the Stanford “family” privately. Or if you want to start a positive, helpful thread about mental illness, please do but only use this tragedy as an inspiration because every time you drag Sam’s name into this, it’s like you’re only seeing her as her illness/tragedy and, no matter how kind and well-intentioned it’s like stabbing her family over and over again. I didn’t know Sam but I do know she was much more than what recently happened to her. Think of all the wonderful things she has done and continues to do. That is a strong, amazing, empowering individual. If I ever have a daughter, I will name her Alohilani, Sam’s middle name, bc I could not think of a brighter sky. Be well everyone, and love and prayers to all. And remember, be the change you wish to see in the world. There is always someone who will help and appreciate you. I hope I have not offended anyone. 

  • John

    I live in New York and I lost friends to this disease.  If you want to take action,  Google Jason Flatt Foundation to have this bill passed in your state.  I have written to local leaders and State leaders to pass this in our State. 

  • Tuscany225

    The issue isn’t whether this should be discussed, but the need some seem to have to discuss it NOW.  Perhaps there isn’t anything that can be done to help her family and friends feel better, but there are things that could make them feel worse.  Allow them their privacy.

  • Tuscany225

    Professor Pat is clearly not a professor; many of his/her comments are uneducated at best, incredibly insensitive at worst.  Please, Pat, learn to focus on the needs of others and show respect for those grieving.

  • Tuscany225

    Just because newspaper reporters and Stanford officials are respecting privacy,  you can’t assume the community has not already experienced a wake-up call, nor can you assume there were not people aware and doing everything humanly possible to help Sam.  You don’t know; I don’t know.  Frankly, it’s not our business. Too many on this board are acting as if there is some noble reason to be intrusive and insist on information that is not theirs to have.  Be kind to those in pain.

  • hoppy

    Always sad when someone is cut down early in life. It happens all too often.