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Sammis Reyes: a new Latino Looking to Conquer the NFL

The Washington Football Team tight end became the first Chilean to sign an NFL contract. Will Sammis Reyes make history?.

Sammis kings

Talent, discipline, performance and physical bearing were some of the skills that various teams saw in the Chilean, but in the end it was Washington Football Team who managed to stay with one of the new promising Latin Americans in the sport. Photo: IG-sammisreyes

LatinAmerican Post | Theoscar Mogollón González

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Leer en español: Sammis Reyes: un nuevo latino que busca conquistar la NFL

The rise of American football in recent decades has been growing, and this is in large part due to the scenes that the organizers of the NFL have made with events like the Super Bowl, in addition to the intensity and emotion that you live match by match. But while this is one of the least popular disciplines in Latin America and with very little representation of Latino players in that league, by 2021 all eyes will be on a promising youngster: Chilean Sammis Reyes.

It is worth remembering that the United States has the particularity of being one of the nations of the American continent that is most faithful to sports, since it is no secret to anyone that their baseball and basketball leagues are classified as the best in the world. Even so, football is the most popular discipline in the country, to the point of having an average audience of over 50,000 and not to mention the amount of millions of dollars that teams (franchises) generate per season.

In other words, since it is a sport originated in North America that has some modifications compared to rugby, the percentage of foreign players is 3% (according to a study published by Business Insider), a number that is further reduced when we look at the latinos. Despite this, American football does not stop adding new fans, and for this year several million more will do so from Chile with their first representative. Will Sammis Reyes have what it takes to succeed in the NFL?

Sammis and his passion for basketball

The world of sports is full of incredible stories in every way, and this is no exception. The city of Talcahuano -in central Chile- gave birth to Sammis Reyes on October 19, 1995, for whom destiny had prepared a purely sporting path. Soccer and basketball were the beginnings of a young man who little by little grew up with the illusion of one day playing in the NBA, since his talent on the court began to show it from the age of nine.

With the firm goal of becoming the first Chilean in the NBA, Sammis took an important step during a tour with Chile's U-15 team in the United States, where several recruiters offered him a scholarship to attend Westlake Prep, a school in the greater Miami area. With only 14 years and very little English, he did not hesitate to pack his bags to find that "American dream" at any cost.

Over the years, Sammis tried his hand at various college teams, struggling to find stability and grappling with minor injuries and the constant feeling of melancholy brought on by being away from home. This is how he arrived at Tulane University in 2016, where his most important achievement ended up being his Master of Business Administration, since he played very few games with the basketball team. For 2018, his final year of college eligibility, he defended the colors of Loyola University New Orleans.

Football and a new opportunity

His stage in college basketball was not as fruitful as he expected, but that did not take away the illusion of continuing to play what he loved most and especially with his team. Once the qualifying rounds for the 2019 Basketball World Cup where Chile could not qualify, Sammis made the decision to end his career as a basketball player and chose to work as a coach for other athletes in the discipline. What he did not know was that he would have a new opportunity, but in another sport: Football.

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During his time in high school, the Chilean tried Football for a week, one of the most practiced disciplines in schools and universities in the United States. And it is that before the insistence again of colleagues and coaches to practice it again, he requested and was approved in the International Player Pathway Program (IPPP) of the NFL, a program that seeks to increase the number of foreign athletes in that league. There he trained for 10 weeks at the IMG Academy in Bradenton, Florida, before showing up at Pro Day, a showcase for future NFL Draft prospects.

Talent, discipline, performance and physical bearing were some of the aptitudes that several teams saw in the Chilean, but in the end it was Washington Football Team that managed to stay with one of the new promising Latinos in the sport. His performance as a tight end - one of the most complex positions in offense - during the preseason, allowed him to earn a spot on the final roster for the 2021 season. In the end, the Talcahuano-born will not be the first Chilean to debut in the NBA, but in the NFL.