Achievement Story: Sam Holzrichter, North High School Alum
Sioux City, IA – Sam Holzrichter is a two-time gold medalist hockey player, who was born deaf. Although the impairment has created unique obstacles, it’s nothing the North High School graduate hasn’t been able to navigate with finesse.
Born and raised in Sioux City, Sam spent his academic career in the Sioux City Community School District. Inside the classroom, Sam attributes a lot of his success to his long-time interpreter, Sandy Leach. Sandy was Sam’s interpreter from fourth grade until he graduated in 2016. Their bond is so strong that Sam now refers to Sandy as his “second mom”.
Sam greatly appreciated Sandy’s dedication especially during his high school years, when Sandy had to make sure she knew how to translate terms specific to his more difficult classes.
“She helped me so much. I took really tough classes, so that put a lot of strain on her because she had to know all the vocabulary. If it wasn’t for her, I probably would not have done as well in school,” Sam says.
Even though Sam graduated in 2016, the pair still stay in touch.
Outside of school, Sam honed his skills as a hockey player. He grew up on the ice, starting at just 4 years old. Sam earned his first gold medal the same year he graduated, at the World Deaf Hockey Championships in 2016. His next gold medal came in 2020 at the Winter Deaflympics in Italy.
In recent years, Sam has unofficially returned to the Sioux City Community School District in a mentoring capacity. He recently answered the call when a need arose with a deaf student. Sam offers a unique perspective to both the student and the people around the student.
His best advice all around? Patience.
Between the delay in communication (because it has to pass through an interpreter) and just figuring out what works for each person, he says it’s easy to get frustrated. But with some time and hard work, no goal is out of reach.
These days, you might catch Sam at the occasional fundraiser to benefit the District. During the summer of 2021, Sam was the featured celebrity golfer at the Sioux City Public Schools Foundation’s “Golf Fore Education Classic”.
“I’m happy to give back to the school district that helped me become the person I am today,” Sam says.