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Where they are now: Sam Wisneski

By Murray Gleffe

HOUSTON – It’s been four years since Sam Wisneski starred in three sports and walked the halls at Ashwaubenon High School.

Wisneski played football in the fall, basketball in the winter and tennis in the spring.

“I would say my biggest takeaway from all the years of sports is the importance of relationships and teamwork in trying to accomplish goals,” Wisneski said about his time in high school. “I don’t care if it’s on the court, in the classroom or at a job – working well with others is crucial to success. Sports also taught me the importance of hard work across all aspects of life. Accomplishing goals takes time and effort, period. That’s been very evident in my classes and work experience, and I’m sure it will continue to be.”

Wisneski received a National Merit Scholarship with a 4.3 GPA and an ACT score of 34.

Students that receive the scholarship can pick from one of about 50 schools in the United States to get a free education. His first choice, UW-Madison, was not one to offer an entire four years of education paid for, so he decided to look elsewhere.

“I found the University of Houston’s offer to be the most appealing,” said Wisneski, who is majoring in mechanical engineering and minoring in mathematics. “Opportunities in the petroleum and aerospace industry, the experience of a big city, warm weather and the University’s Honors College were a few of the deciding factors.”

Being 1,200 miles away from home can be a challenge for most. On top of a rigorous schedule, students are immersed in a completely different culture and lifestyle.

“It’s been a great experience all around,” Wisneski added about his experience down south. “The University of Houston is actually the second most diverse campus in the nation, so I’ve been able to meet people with different backgrounds and perspectives. Classes have been pretty standard as far as mechanical engineering goes – certainly, a lot of equations and formulas are thrown my way. I’m just beginning a year-long project development and design course that looks pretty cool. It’s not always easy to stay on top of everything, but I’ve got a solid group of friends down here to help with that.”

Texas is a big state with over 28 million people living within its borders, with ample opportunities.

“I’ve gone to the rodeo a few times – wore boots and Wranglers but couldn’t be talked into a cowboy hat,” said Wisneski, who plays intramural volleyball, basketball, flag football, softball and dodgeball.

“I took a few trips to Austin, San Antonio and Galveston – all very unique places with strong history. A few months ago, I went skydiving with a buddy and am looking at bungee jumping in the next few months. Some friends down here have lake houses and ranches, so we’ll spend weekends there. Aside from that, just spending time in the city; Houston always has something fun going on.”

Houston was the focal point of Hurricane Harvey (category 4) that hit the Texas coast Aug. 25-29 in 2017. Some locations in and around the metroplex received almost four feet of rain in less than a week. It caused an estimated $125 billion of damage, making it the second deadliest for all-natural disasters in the United States.

“Harvey was devastating for a lot of people,” Wisneski said. “I had an internship at an oil refinery lined up, but the hurricane hit a few days before I was supposed to start. My company (Marathon Petroleum Corporation) relocated me to Louisiana for a month while they repaired the Texas refinery. I’ll never forget driving from Houston to Louisiana and seeing so many houses destroyed. Most had to be completely gutted since there had been standing water inside for days. Thousands would have been without food, water and shelter if not for the efforts by the community. Everybody really came together in the aftermath, which was very powerful to witness.”

Since Wisneski has been at the University of Houston, the football team went 13-1 during his first year on campus, and the No. 12-ranked basketball team in the country currently sits at 27-2.

“As far as plans after college, I haven’t set anything in stone quite yet,” said Wisneski, who has a 3.5 GPA at Houston. “I’d like to take a few months to travel, but jobs typically start pretty quick after graduating. I’ve been looking at engineering opportunities in the Green Bay/Appleton area and there seem to be some good options. I could see myself at Proctor and Gamble or somewhere similar. I’ve also spent quite a few years working with my dad at his car dealership, and I wouldn’t be surprised if I get into that business. It’s a fast moving and challenging environment that really suits me well. The one thing I do know is that I’ll be coming back to the Green Bay area.”

Editor’s note: If you have a suggestion for a former athlete from the Green Bay area to feature in a “Where are they now” article, please email Sports Editor Rich Palzewic, [email protected], for consideration.


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