Springwoods’ Sampson runs both varsity basketball teams

Published 8:30 am Tuesday, December 24, 2019

When you watch Springwood varsity girls sideline, you notice head coach Lisa Sampson giving her squad instructions. In the short break between games, Sampson goes into the locker room with her team while the boys start to warm up.

Sampson then appears out of the locker room quickly and starts to watch her boys. Sampson calls the varsity boys team together just before tip, giving one last message before the start of the game.

Yes, the same Sampson that coached the varsity girls team also coaches the Springwood boys team.

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Sampson is one of the few female boys basketball coaches in the state of Alabama. As of last year, only one AHSAA team had a female boys coach. In the AISA, the division that Springwood plays, there weren’t any.

To Sampson, all that she cares about is basketball.

“I don’t even look at it that way. I’m sure maybe some of the guys coaching against me may look at it,” Sampson said. “To me, it’s just basketball.”

Basketball has always been a part of Sampson’s life, as she grew up with Hall of Fame coach Joe Ciampi as her father.

When she was a senior at Lee-Scott, Sampson had a couple of smaller D-1 offers, but one day she received a letter from Auburn. Her father had sent her a scholarship offer. It was signed “dad.”

“I still have that letter to this day. And that just that did it for me,” Sampson said. “I knew that it could be something very special for me to do, and it absolutely was.”

Sampson played for Auburn from 1988-91, playing on three teams that went to the national championship.

There she was able to build a relationship that few people have with their parents, as her relationship with her father evolved throughout those four years.

Once she finished at Auburn, Sampson moved on to coaching. She started her journey by coaching her alma mater, Lee-Scott High School.

She then moved on to coaching AAU teams, one of which is the Auburn Raptors.

Sampson started coaching the Raptors once her oldest son, who is now a tenth grader at Auburn High School, was in second grade. After her father retired, he joined Sampson on the Raptors coaching staff.

“We do kind of have similar mindsets and love teaching the game, and we just love the strategy of the game,” Sampson said. “So that was fun. Of course, some of the rec center dads thought we were a little over the top, but it was just a special time.”

Three years ago, Sampson was named President of the Raptors.

Sampson loves to teach the game of basketball, but there was a limit to how much she could teach with the Raptors since they could only practice at most twice a week because of the players’ travel.

This problem was solved in August when she was named the head basketball coach of Springwood.

“I liked the day-to-day teaching, and I really felt like I could make a bigger difference with the day-to-day at a high school,” Sampson said.

Sampson uses any opportunity she can to teach her teams. The latest example was the team’s Christmas party. There she talked about the importance of team chemistry.

“You can put the best players together, but there has to be that that chemistry between the players,” Sampson said.