Miami Dolphins fans have come to love Andrew Van Ginkel. So much so they are pounding the social media tables for a new extension, for his wife Sam Van Ginkel, it's about a lot more than that.
It is said that behind every good man is a great woman. I would like to think so considering I managed to keep my marriage going for 30 years so far.
Behind Andrew Van Ginkel is his wife Sam.
Typically, we get to hear the interviews that media members conduct with the players and we hear their stories but what about the ones who are not on the fields? Sam Van Ginkel met her husband way up north in Iowa. They have two children, both boys, and her men are her lives. It is this passion that drives her.
Sam Van Ginkel is a lot of things but above everything, she is a child of God. We spoke with Sam recently about her life as the spouse of a pro athlete and the charities that have become a part of her life.
You all seem to be very big on supporting the foster care system. Is that just a choice?
I volunteer alongside the Miami Dolphins Women's Organization. They choose our events for the year, so it is just by choice that most of the events tend to help out foster children and women's shelters. However, it has become a passion of mine to help out children in the foster care system. One of the MDWO's favorite places to volunteer is His House Miami. We all look forward to the events we do with them every year. They’re a fantastic organization that Is SO grateful. Being a mom myself, my heart goes out to all of the children who are in the foster care system, waiting to be adopted. I genuinely wish we could open our home, but there are many reasons I don’t think we’d be able to, including the unstable lifestyle we live due to contract situations, off-season travel plans, & not having enough room in our house. But someday, I’d love to open our home to foster!
You have stepped out and into the public, especially in South Florida, promoting charitable work from cancer to foster care and more. What can you tell us about this work and how you have approached it?
Andrew’s oldest sister passed away at nine years old (before he was born). We’ve heard about the struggles his parents went through during her fight with cancer. Because of the tragedy that his family experienced, we are both very passionate about helping families and children throughout their fight with cancer. One way we do that is by partnering with Alex’s Lemonade Stand.
Every year, I host a tailgate & we take a Hero family to a home game. In the offseason, we hosted a lemonade stand in our hometown in Iowa. I can already tell that is something we’ll be making a yearly tradition. We also do a toy distribution at Joe DiMaggio around Christmas time with a good friend of ours, Michael Rinzler, the creator of Cabbage Patch Kids, and numerous other toys! Being parents has opened our hearts to help other families, too.
Moving toward being a "football wife" was that something you ever thought would become your life?
Andrew was always one of the best athletes on the field, court, or track in high school. But he was incredibly underlooked. I thought he’d go to college for basketball, not football. So when he chose football, I was like hmm ok. I’ll support you no matter what you choose. No matter what he’s doing, he’s always excelling. And say he isn’t; he’ll practice until he is.
His journey to the league was not a straight shot; there were many hurdles, but he hopped over every single one. I never expected to be in this position, but now that we’re here, I’m trying to use the platform we have to spread love & kindness no matter where our journey takes us. Every day that he is in the league is a huge blessing. We owe all of our thanks to our Lord & Savior.
Dolphins fans have fallen in love with you and Andrew, on and off the field. How has that changed your daily lives, just going to the store and trying to have a normal life or has it not changed yet?
Honestly, things haven't changed that much!! He gets recognized every now & then, but less often than you'd think. Whenever I see someone with his jersey on, it makes me stop dead in my tracks. It's so surreal to see that others love him as well!
Why Miami? Andrew was offered a one-year deal last March to stay with the Dolphins and I'm certain that is a decision you both made. It was reported that you both wanted to stay in Miami.
Andrew was drafted to Miami in 2019. In the NFL, that's a long time to stay in one place and something that we will never take for granted. Miami has truly become "home" to us. I'm one of the Bible study leaders for the significant others on the players, coaches, and front office side -- I've made lifelong friends through our Bible study group.
Last year, when we thought we were leaving, the goodbyes were so hard. I specifically remember the last game of the year, I was walking away from our seats and just kept staring at everything, taking it all in. I left with tears streaming down my face. I was heavily pregnant and very hormonal. Lol. After the Bills game, we packed some boxes because we figured it'd be easier to pack while pregnant than with a newborn. I can't tell you how happy I was to unpack those boxes! However, I know it's unrealistic to stay in one place your entire NFL career, so having a good mentality is important.
Both of our families live in the same hometown in Iowa, so that will always be the primary home to us. We go back there every offseason as it’s the only time we get to see family that can’t afford to visit or don’t get the chance to visit us throughout the year. We enjoy our time back in Iowa, but it’s always nice to return to Florida and enjoy this beautiful weather as a family. Our oldest LOVES to swim with Dada, so we’re constantly in our pool or going to local splash pads.
I have to ask: Has there been any discussion about a longer stay in Miami with the Dolphins beyond this season?
I know so many players who had "discussions" that ultimately led them to a contract somewhere else. So even though things are talked about, they might not lead to an extension. It just depends on if both sides are happy! If we stay, I'll be ecstatic. But I also believe we are young, and if this is our time to move, it could be a blessing in disguise. You never know what God has planned for your life!
Can you walk us through the pitfalls of being a "football wife"? I'm sure your nerves are shot on game days. I remember sitting with the wives during a game a few years ago, and you could feel that tension throughout the game.
I had to laugh at your comment about being able to feel the tension. During away games, we usually host a "watch" party, and the tension is felt the minute the game starts.. everyone gets quiet, legs start bouncing, and we all feel like we're going to throw up. We have no control over the game, but we have to deal with the consequences of a "bad" game or a loss.
Some of the main pitfalls are just how busy the guys are and how much weight they carry on their shoulders. People can say some gnarly things online and it's very hard to hear people talk badly about your spouse.. people only see what the guys are putting out there on the field. They don't see the 6 am-7 pm grind, no off days, missing their children's events, the toll it takes on them physically and mentally, etc. There are so many sacrifices that these guys make day in and day out. It's easy to say, "That's why they get paid what they do", but until you live this life, you will never understand just how deserving they are of every dollar made.
Do you have big plans for after the season?
We're going to enjoy the FL weather as much as possible and head back to Iowa for a month or so. Our hometown church is going on a mission trip to Mexico the week before our friends get married in San Diego so we're thinking about going on the mission trip and flying straight to the wedding. That'll be around the same time free agency starts. We like to be back in Iowa for that so if Andrew has to travel for any team visits, I have family to help me with our boys!
You are far more than a "football wife." What drives you beyond the charities you work with and organize? Who is Sam Van Ginkel?
First and foremost, I'm a child of God. I love my early mornings watching the sunrise, drinking a cup of coffee, and reading my Bible and devotions outside on the patio. My faith drives me. My pastor taught me to continuously work toward my salvation, so I love to volunteer and spread the word of God any chance I can.
I'm a mother. Motherhood is my ministry. I have two little boys that I'm trying to raise into men who show love and respect to all those that they encounter. My boys are my why.
My husband is my motivation. He's always pushing me to be better. He's never content - he's always hungry and wanting more. His drive pushes me to be the best that I can be whether it's being a full time student, stay at home mom, or advocate.
I have a huge heart. I'd do anything for a friend. I want everyone to be happy and I'll do anything I can do to help achieve that.
I'm also told I'm the life of the party and queen of tailgating.
What would your advice be to a young mom or wife coming into the league or the Dolphins for the first time that may help them acclimate more?
Attend every event the Dolphins recommend, whether it's the annual luncheon, volunteer event, holiday party, or Bible study. Some of my best friends were made in the Bible study group. Some of my good friends are also employees of the Dolphins. Be kind to everyone and never forget where you came from. Stay humble and always show thanks to the ones that helped you get here. God is good all the time.