he's chasing dreams hitting seams.
she's chasing dreams talking sports.
Carolina Carmichael moved from Illinois to Tennessee for a track and field scholarship at the University of Memphis.
Memphis gave her two life changing things: a stellar pole vaulting career and her husband.
Carolina was a freshman, and Memphis native Sam Moll was a junior pitcher for Memphis. The two first met in April 2013. “My best friend was dating a baseball player which is how I met Sam,” Carolina said. “She told me ‘yeah, Sam is stud’, but I knew nothing about baseball, so I really wasn’t impressed.”
Carolina and Sam spent one week together getting to know each other before Carolina headed back to Illinois for summer break. “We had mentioned to people that we were just talking,” Carolina said. “So it got kind of awkward because a few days after I got home he texted me and told me he was just drafted in third round. I was like what, what does that even mean.”
Carolina’s dad played college baseball and played a stint in the minor leagues. “I went to my dad and told him this guy I was talking to was just drafted in the third round and asked him if that was good,” Carolina said. “My dad thought I was crazy for being kind of clueless and explained the process to me a little bit then he told me I needed to keep talking to this guy and hang on to him.”
Sam was sent to the Rockies short season team after being drafted, and Carolina quickly learned the minor league life. “We had a lot of Skype time,” Carolina said. “It was so weird because I wasn’t going to fly across the country to visit this guy I had barely met, but we talked every single day. I listened to all the games. I guess we used the distance to really get to know each other.”
Sam is from Memphis. His family still lives there. So for the offseason, Sam was back in Memphis and Carolina was back too for the school year. “Luckily, his home was Memphis because I’m not sure how all of this would have worked if we both weren’t in Memphis during the offseason,” Carolina said. “The same night he got back from season he came over to my place, and we were like oh hey so good to see you...”
That offseason Carolina and Sam spent every day together. “He was coming to all my indoor meets, and he met my parents,” Carolina said. “Before he left for the 2014 season, we finally had the like ok-we’re-doing-this-you’re-my-boyfriend conversation.”
Because of Carolina’s spring pole vaulting season, she wasn’t able to visit Sam until her season was over. “Even though we went six months without seeing each other, I was able to spend a month or so with him after my season was over before starting school again,” Carolina said. “When I finished my season in 2015, Sam was playing in California. My grandmother lived about an hour and a half away from his home field, so I would be with him during a home series then go stay with my grandmother during an away series. That is probably my favorite season because I got to spend a lot of time with Sam and my grandmother.”
Carolina always did really well so she was competing until June and July in the NCAA outdoor championships. She took home first place in 2014, 2015 and 2016 AAC Conference Championships. She was a four-time NCAA All-American and is the school indoor and outdoor record-holder in the pole vault. She also competed in the 2016 Olympic trials. “The 2016 season was the longest time we spent a part, and it was definitely hard but we both just understood what each of us was and still are trying to do to reach our dreams that won’t always be right here for us to reach,” Carolina said. On top of a stand out pole vaulting season, graduating and competing in the Olympic trials, Carolina also got engaged to Sam in 2016.
Carolina did not qualify for the Olympics and found out after competing she had a herniated disk. “I knew I wasn’t ready to give up pole vaulting,” Carolina said. She stayed in Memphis another year, earned a master’s degree, attended a meet in Taiwan and battled injuries throughout training. “I pretty much lost all of last year. I needed a break mentally and physically.”
Sam’s baseball journey in 2017 was a good break for Carolina. Sam was on the Rockies 40-man roster while playing in AAA but got designated. Designated is also known as DFA. When a team places a player on their 40-man roster, they have to keep said player on the 40-man. If they designate (take off 40-man) said player, any other team (within a certain amount of days) can pick the player up and place him on their 40-man roster. “When he got designated, he came to spend time with me in Chicago while waiting to get picked up,” Carolina said. “It was weird because it was the middle of the season, and he was just throwing into a net in the backyard.” Luckily, after a few days, the Oakland A’s called and told him he was now an Oakland A.
Sam was assigned to the AAA team in Nashville which was only a few hours away from Memphis. “His first series was actually played in Memphis, so it was a nice reunion,” Carolina said.
Carolina spent the next few weeks with Sam in Nashville, and then they got the call. “He got the call as a September call up, so we woke up in Nashville and ended the day with him making his debut in Seattle,” Carolina said. “Inside I was freaking out and so excited, but Sam was chill about it all that I tried my best to be calm too. It didn’t really hit me until he came running from the bullpen, and I just kind of went into my own zone. His warm pitches were all over the place. But he threw three pitches and got a pop up to end the inning. It was such a surreal feeling. I went from not knowing much about the major league process to really loving baseball, learning pitches, being along for Sam’s dream and starting to understand how this all works. I learned very quickly.”
After spending the next few weeks with the A’s to end the season, Carolina and Sam were ready for a moment to breathe and get married. After the season, Carolina moved to Knoxville to train with 2004 Olympic Gold Medalist in pole vaulting and UTK alumnus, Tim Mack. Then the two were married in Dec. 2017. “The last two years have been such a whirlwind of a lot of highs and some lows, but we’re so thankful to have gone through all those times together.”
During the offseason, Sam was designated by the A’s, picked up by the Pirates for one day and landed with Seattle Mariners. “The Pirates basically told him they didn’t want him on their 40-man so were just hoping no one picked him up during the time period,” Carolina said. “Seattle made the move the next day. We’re not sure exactly where he will end up this season, but we’re grateful for our experiences so far and are excited for what's next.”
As for Carolina, she has her sights set on the 2020 Olympics and gaining sponsors and status as an Elite pole vaulter. “I’m starting to get back in the groove of training and will start competing in meets soon,” Carolina said. “I won’t pole vault forever. Sam won’t play baseball forever. So we’re really taking this time to chase our dreams and passions. I think it helps both of us because the other one really knows the grind of our sports. Both of our sports show a lot of failures and no mercy. We help each other really have this approach of ‘ok, we can be upset for a little bit about a bad performance but then we have to move on and be better.’ I truly believe we're both better because we work very hard and give tons of support to each other.”
2/24/2018 04:49:34 pm
Loved reading about another couple chasing their dreams!
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Matt & Jesica Beaty
Welcome in to dreams and seams! A tell-all blog about our career dreams and path to reaching those dreams with some commentary about sports and life plus some videos too.
"Strive for the impossible because it makes the possible seem effortless." -Matt Beaty