If playing defense is the game, ex-Bear Sameri is the aim


Rogina Sameri
NEWEST FALCON – 2017 Central High graduate Rogina Sameri, center, is flanked (left to right) by CHS Head Coach Ken Brening, her mother Mandana, Florida College Women’s Head Coach David Castillo and Florida College Men’s Head Coach Saif Alsateer. Photo provided

Defending three-time

All-County defender

inks with Florida College



Florida College Falcons
Florida College Falcons

The unprecedented mining of women’s soccer talent from Hernando County by NAIA’s Florida College Falcons continues.

The Temple Terrace program pried away perhaps the county’s finest man-marking defender in 2017 Central High graduate Rogina Sameri to its Hillsborough County campus.

Sameri 101

Rogina Sameri
Rogina Sameri

Rogina was born in Tallahassee as the youngest of three children to Sam and Mandana Sameri.

The Sameri’s relocated from Leon to Hernando County just over four years ago and call Brooksville home.

The current 5-foot-10, 150-pound Sameri traced her athletic roots to the Sunshine State capital.

At 5 years old she began playing competitive soccer for the TUFB (Tallahassee United Futbol Club). She continued to played in Leon County until the end of her eighth-grade year in 2013.

She recalls alternating from goalie, playing midfield, outside mid and even forward.

Montford Middle School MustangsAt William J. Montford III Middle School, she served as goalie when the Mustangs starting keeper was injured in seventh-grade.

By eighth-grade, the family relocated to Hernando County where she attended West Hernando Middle School for the last three months of the school year.

The following semester, she enrolled at Central High.

The relationship has been mutually beneficial.

The dark brown-tressed and brown-eyed Sameri found a niche with the Lady Bears’ defense.

For her efforts, she was named All-Hernando County in soccer as a freshman, sophomore and junior by the area coaches and HernandoSport.com.

Ken Brening Photo by JOE DiCRISTOFALO
Ken Brening

Her mentor in high school, Ken Brening, said of her 2016 selection, “Reggie is very aggressive and very focused for each game. She’s a leader and runs our defense from the back.”

The coaches have yet to release the 2016-17 All-County Girls Soccer all-star squad, but Sameri appears to be a strong candidate for a fourth straight nod.

Kim Brown
Kim Brown

Should Sameri be named again, she’ll be the first Central High all-star in 11 winters or since 2006 when twins Danielle and Kim Brown each graduated from the Ken Austin Parkway campus as four-time All-County soccer performers.

2016 CEN GSOC Seniors
2016-17 BEAR SENIORS – On the far right of the second row is Rogina Sameri.                               Photo by TONY CASTRO

Sameri’s inspiration: It’s all in the family

Rogina’s passion for the pitch stems from her upbringing.

Her father, Sam, and older brother and sister each played futbol.

“My brother really inspired me,” pointed out the 18-year-old Sameri. “He was just amazing to watch. He received a scholarship to Webber. He wore No. 17 and excelled on defense. I wanted to be just like him when I got to Central, but I wore No. 16.”

When Sameri peers into the mirror, “I work hard and I’m a very aggressive person, especially when other girls are pushing me in the (scoring) box,” explained Sameri. “I’m the type of player that will not give up. If we lose, I want who ever I’m playing to have earned their goals.”

Biggest attributes?

“I can see the whole field and see runs develop,” offered Sameri. “I can man mark well and I can make runs taking the ball up the flanks into the offensive zone to start the attack. I can be fast.”

“Skill-wise I’ve improved a lot,” added Rogina. “I remember when I got to Central. I was a stick. I was so skinny. Since then, I’ve gotten physically and mentally much stronger. And my stamina has gotten better.”

In intangibles, Sameri now comprehends the bigger picture in each match.

“Over the last few years I’ve had a better understanding of what coach wants us to do and why,” noted Sameri. “It’s like, now everything makes sense now; I get it.

“Because of it, my attitude has changed,” admitted Sameri. “When a game wasn’t going our way or I didn’t feel like I was playing my best for whatever reason, I dropped my head. I’ve learned as captain that everyone else is looking at me, so I have to continue encouraging everyone else.”

On the keys to defense, “I have to continue talking to my teammates,” said Sameri. “We have to keep pushing. I tell the girls think of any game as your last game and give it that type of effort.”

Rewinding her prep career

Across a four-year span, Sameri’s crew lost more matches (39) than they won (29) or tied (11).

Losing seasons as a freshman and sophomore were replaced by a magical 2015-16 season in a new district alignment – away from the remaining Hernando County power squads like Springstead and Nature Coast Technical – in Class 2A, District 6.

As a junior, Sameri’s squad finished 15-3-3 and captured the school’s second-ever district championship and first since 1998 by solving The Villages, 3-2.

That season left two indelible marks for Sameri.

Of her two career varsity goals scored, her first-ever arrived against Ocala-Trinity Catholic in the 2A-6 semifinal 7-2 route at the Bears‘ Den.

Rogina Sameri
Rogina Sameri

“The big thing was that first goal came off my left foot. I had broken my left foot when I was younger and it wasn’t my strongest,” recalled Sameri. “When I struck it, it wasn’t a blast … it kinda rolled in. Scoring that goal and beating those guys made me so happy.

“…They (Trinity Catholic) were a good team, but they talked a lot.”

“But winning the district championship that same season was something I’ll never forget,” added Sameri. “I felt like we accomplished something for Central High School.

“After the final whistle blew the moment felt surreal,” grinned Sameri. “I clearly remember what it was like playing soccer in front of 4-5-6 people in the stands as a freshman to us playing in the in front of full stands. When I talk about it now, it still gives me goose bumps.”

After losing the bulk of the senior-laden team from 2015-16, the Bears slunk to 5-11-3 and were eliminated in the opening round of the district playoffs.

“I remember balling my eyes out after we lost to Trinity Catholic, 3-0, this year,” recalled Sameri. “Yeah, deep down I had some regrets. I thought I should’ve prepared my teammates better. I know I could’ve played better. I wish I could play with them again. It was hard to go out when I didn’t think we played a good game.”

Prepping for college

Outside of the pitch, Sameri maintained an unweighted 3.0 and weighted 3.1 grade point average.

Her favorite courses included World History and an Allied Health Class.

The health class was a clinical program where students went to area hospitals and shadowed workers.

As a result, Sameri aspires to become a heath professional. Her goal is to become an RN (registered nurse) and work in the Intensive Care Unit.

Florida College Falcons
Florida College Falcons

In the search for college, Sameri made a list of colleges she wanted to attend including: Nova-Southeastern in Broward County, Montrelle Cruse in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, the University of West Florida and Palm Beach Atlantic.

Former CHS Head Coach Amy Ellis helped her contacting Nova.

Her competitive coach, Tom Neesham, had mentioned to her about a tryout at Florida College. She heard they were looking for players.

Though Sameri went there mostly as a courtesy call, she was immediately taken by the school’s Temple Terrace proximity to Hernando County.

“It was a small school and close to home,” explained Sameri. “But the minute I got there, I felt really comfortable. I knew some of the girls that were signing. It seemed like a nice campus and nice setting. I didn’t feel like I was just going to be a number on campus.

“When I learned two of my best friends were going there, things just seemed to click for me. The distance really helped,” identified Sameri. “All I could think about was my family.”

Next step

Since graduation, Sameri stays fit by running on her own and working out at the Anderson Snow Sports Complex in Spring Hill.

“I feel like I’m ready for the next chapter,” insisted Sameri. “My mom is doing her best to prepare me.”

“I believe the biggest obstacle to having success at the next level is adjusting to playing with a new set of girls,” revealed Sameri. “I think it’s something I can overcome.

“I know we’re playing bigger girls. We’re not playing in high school any more,” she added. “The speed of the game will be more intense. Everything I do has to be 10 times faster.”

When Sameri isn’t practicing or working out, she can be found working part-time busing tables for the Chefs of Napoli Restaurant.

“I meet a lot of new people while earning some money for college,” added Sameri.

Her calendar is all set for moving in day on Aug. 12 at Florida College.

Prior to stepping toward the next leg of life’s journey, “I’d like to be remembered as someone who never cut anyone else down,” stressed Sameri. “Sure I’d like to be remembered as No. 16 at Central, but my character is super important. I’d like to be remembered on how I treated other people.”

By the Numbers:

Central’s Regina Sameri (2013-17)

– Compiled by TONY CASTRO







































* Denotes All-Hernando County selection.


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