Samantha Cash is a professional volleyball player, currently signed to play with the team in Switzerland and in the past, she’s won three European volleyball championships, playing for Team Linz in Austria, Team Northumbria in England, and Team Alcobendas in Spain. She also led the Youth Olympic USA Women’s Volleyball Team to a silver medal as the captain, and recently won best middle playing for Team USA in Vietnam. She went to Pepperdine where she studied film and played both indoor and beach volleyball and loves comic-con, cooking and feminism.
Listen to the Podcast here:
Alice: Welcome Samantha! Thank you for being on today.
Alice: So thank you everyone who’s watching or tuning in later to our podcast. I’m Alice. I’m the Social Media Manager for Jubilance and today, I’m talking with my amazing sister, Samantha Cash.
Samantha: Hi. That’s me.
Alice: Samantha is a professional volleyball player, currently signed to play with the team in Switzerland and in the past, she’s won three European volleyball championships, playing for Team Linz in Austria, Team Northumbria in England, and Team Alcobendas in Spain. She also led the Youth Olympic USA Women’s Volleyball Team to a silver medal as the captain, and recently won best middle playing for Team USA in Vietnam. She went to Pepperdine where she studied film and played both indoor and beach volleyball and loves comic-con, cooking and feminism. So, welcome Samantha. Thank you so much for joining us.
Samantha: Yay. Thank you for having me. This is very exciting.
Alice: Yes. So I just want to start off with some fun questions. What’s your favorite comic book character?
Samantha: Not really a well-know character, but there is a character named Squirrel Girl. She’s in the marvel comic universe. She has the powers of a squirrel, but her main power is that she empathizes so well and is able to come up with solutions for every conflict in a way that’s usually not violent and that, she’s just like a quirky college kid who’s studying computer science, and loves her best friends and who runs into villains, and figures out what the root of their problems.
Alice: Oh, that’s really cool, huh? That’s interesting. I’ll have to check it out.
Samantha: I’m sure I have the comic somewhere. I’ll lend them to you.
Alice: Okay. What is your favorite star and why?
Samantha: For stars, I guess I have to say the sun, as it does a lot for us, but I have a favorite celestial body, it’s not a star but— like it’s to the point where I really want to even name my kid after it, Enceladus. It’s my favorite moon of Saturn. It’s not the biggest and Saturn has like—I think like– Saturn has so many moons, they haven’t even named nine of them. I think there’s like over sixty moons of Saturn but in my opinion, based on all of the research I’ve seen, I think that Enceladus is the most likely place that we’ll find living organisms in our solar system.
Alice: Wow. Only you would know that. What is your favorite random fact for all of us listening?
Samantha: I mean, I guess it kind of ties into my favorite superhero but one of my favorite things is that there was a 1918 war on squirrels fought by school children in Southern California.
Alice: In 1918?
Samantha: Yes. So at the height of World War I, the ground squirrel was even classified as– it was something like, “As or more destructive than the men that our boys are fighting in the trenches.”
Samantha: They spent like over $14,000 on printed out flyers and leaflets to promote and teach children how to poison food and they gave them guns and fire and poisonous gases and sent them off to go kill squirrels.
Alice: That’s terrifying.
Samantha: Yes and they’re still are a very big threat to the environment. It’s absolutely terrible. They take up or they consumed so many crops every single year and there’s almost nothing you can do about it, and so during the war, all of the fields were being destroyed, and they needed all of that to be sent out to the boys overseas. So they enlisted the help of all the school children that were still there because the men were overseas and farmers and everything but I believe it was a competition and the kids had to kill the squirrels and as proof, they would cut off their tails and send them in.
No, it was absolutely insane and this one girl ended up winning. She had—what was it? She had something like—it was like, 3780 squirrel’s tails that she turned in and the next highest was this boy that she was competing against who had 3770.
Alice: So, females always win. Great. So moving on from squirrels, you’ve lived in Europe for the past 3 years, can you talk about some of the cultural differences that you’ve seen?
Samantha: I mean, I think one of the biggest things moving overseas and not just like– because I know I’ve had a lot of friends who go overseas for studies and stuff and well that’s fun, you’re also there kind of– was like a group of people that, you know, usually Americans or usually in the same situation whereas, with my experience, it’s different because I go there and I just start living with the people of the area. Like my first year, I was the only non-Spanish person on the team. I was the only American but I was also the only foreigner. So you really get immersed in the culture and I don’t know, I think to that extent you kind of realize that everywhere is basically the same. I mean, there’s all these little differences and everything, but everyone is focused on family, and I don’t know, happiness and well-being and health. They take a lot more siestas, which I greatly enjoy. But yes I mean, I think that’s one of the most—one of the best parts about being able to live overseas is just realizing how similar we all are. So, no matter how culturally weird things can get it, you can always feel familiar.
Alice: Where is your favorite place you’ve ever traveled? Whether for volleyball or otherwise?
Samantha: That’s so hard. Because I mean, you asked me this before and I never really know how to answer this question because everywhere is so special and they’re all so unique.
Alice: Give us a story from one place.
Samantha: I don’t know. Vietnam was wonderful but then I also really, really loved travelling around China with you because it was incredibly different because they grow up within a different mindset than us and it’s like the western versus the eastern cultural values and it’s just– I mean it’s—I don’t know, it’s wonderful to see the things that are similar, the things that are different. I mean I loved Iceland it was just one of the most beautiful places we’ve ever been. I don’t know and then I’m here in Switzerland I mean, it’s one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever seen. Just like walking around the Alps and there’s justcows casually just hanging out around you was just amazing.
Alice: I’m so jealous of you right now.
Samantha: Yes. You should be. You really should be.
Alice: Can you talk about playing in Vietnam this summer? What was it like– you’ve never played in Asia before, so can you talk about that experience and–?
Samantha: I did play in Asia.
Alice: Oh, I’m sorry. [crosstalk] I was a fool. Yes.
Samantha: When I was in the US– It’s okay. I played in Singapore. So I spent a month in Singapore and then now I just spent a month in Vietnam and it was—I mean they’re both fantastic experiences. I really, really love the Vietnamese tournament that I was in. It was just absolutely fantastic. I was there with an amazing group of American girls, but then I think, besides the volleyball, because of course the volleyball’s amazing, but besides that, it was so much fun because the final night, all the teams got together and there’s a banquet, but then it turned into karaoke somehow. And then it turned into everyone having a dance off in the middle, but none of us were really dancing. It was like everyone’s having like a push up competition and girl things. Everyone was just drinking and hanging out. We became really good friends with the Chinese team and a lot of the Vietnamese team. I’m friends with them on Facebook now and I don’t know, I think that’s one of my favorite things, it’s just going around meeting with people and making a lot of friends. I mean I say this casually, but I really do have friends all over the world and it’s a really special feeling.
Alice: What was it like eating jellyfish? That was my take-away from your big party at the end.
Samantha: So I’m fearless when it comes to eating everything. I don’t really mind. I think it’s fun. So all of the girls would, when the banquet happened, they would just push their plate over to me and just watch me eat it and just be like, “Huh. What’s the taste like?” I would just casually be with my chopsticks like, “Oh I mean, it’s lovely. It’s got this texture to it,” but the jellyfish was fun. They did it on a wonderful salad and then put– they have the jellyfish chopped up very fine and then they put it with passion fruit and this like crunchy rice chips of sorts and the jellyfish had this amazing texture that was like– I don’t know, it wasn’t like– it’s like, I’m going to say hard jelly, if that makes sense, kind of like not chewy necessarily but crunchy with that kind of the consistency of jelly.
Samantha: It was really good. I would totally have it again.
Alice: Can you talk to me about what it means to be a woman in America versus abroad? Versus in Vietnam? Versus Europe? I mean, you’ve lived in Europe so, how does the definition change and shift? Or does it not?
Samantha: I mean I’m– this is what where it’s kind of weird for me because it is different here in a sense that, I’m going to say it’s worse in America. In America, you always kind of feel this undertone of being property, or I don’t know if I want to say it that way, but if you look at all of our advertising that we have in all of the media that’s pushed at us in America it’s all about— like you’ll see in magazines, it will be like 10 things to love about yourself, and the next page is how to lose weight ,or everything is kind of sexualized, even think like a Carls Jr commercial where the girls are in bikinis eating burgers. It’s just– I feel like you’re more of an object over in America whereas here you’re not–
Alice: They don’t do that. It’s not as sexualized?
Samantha: Not as much. No. No. I don’t know, I think it has something to do with– I mean all of saunas here are nude and they’re co-ed and it’s not– I don’t say that to be crass or anything but it’s because your body isn’t viewed so much as a sexual object as it is just your body. Whereas overseas—I mean overseas for me, whereas back in America, you go into the sauna and even when it’s an all female one, everyone still covers up because your body is our– I don’t know, it’s simultaneously more puritan in values and more conservative in values while at the same time, kind of pushing a sexual undertone.
Alice: That’s interesting. Because it seems like in America, we’re founded under these puritanical values. People escape Europe to come over and practice a different sort of religion, but then I think that’s still progressing throughout our country in a sort of different way.
Samantha: Yes. I think that we can talk about how we say our church is separated from state. It was a big founding principle on who we are as a country because we did found ourselves as a religious state of sorts, just not the religion that was being practiced overseas at the time, and America is more conservative in its undertones but I think because of that conservatism, there’s this almost uncomfortable reverence towards looking at something as an object than, instead of just as your person. So over here, I definitely feel a lot more comfortable with who I am, and my body, and everything than when I go back to America. I mean I’ve been catcalled over here. You get catcalled everywhere, but I’ve been catcalled over here and I don’t feel as uncomfortable with it as I do in America where I feel it as more of an attack of sorts. I’m not saying that’s an attack, but I’m just saying the undertones feel different.
Alice: That’s interesting.
Samantha: Yes, especially since you have a lot of stereotypes when you’re an American, you think of going overseas and having a stereotype, like you know, guys will be kind of be weird with you, but I don’t know. I feel like over here, you have more sense of self.
Alice: I’m curious about that. So being an American abroad, I mean, to be an American means a lot of different things but of course, there’s a stereotype of what an American is. How has that helped or hurt you? Have you felt prejudice against you? Because you’re American. I mean it’s a very specific stereotype that people have of what we are.
Samantha: It is.
Alice: Do you have any funny or different types of stories about that?
Samantha: Well, I’m not going to talk too much in politics because being a woman isn’t a political matter but I have never lived in the Trump America. I was actually in Spain when Trump was elected, and even before he was elected, when I said I was from America, or even when I didn’t and they heard my accent, I basically would just count the questions or count the seconds until Trump was mentioned. Overseas, he does not have a good reputation at all, and so it was always kind of like, I have to in a way defend myself right off the bat and overtime, people have just kind of taken it for granted that, “He’s in office so I don’t get to ask much anymore.” But for the first two years, it was very uncomfortable meeting people at first because they had not only the American prejudice, but it was also the Trump prejudice on top of that. But my second year–
Alice: I know we have viewers from all over the country watching right now and I know it’s always a question of whoever’s in office.
Alice: It’s just always a topic when you’re abroad. Whether it’s Obama or Trump.
Samantha: I remember when I was in France when I was younger. I think, I can’t remember who was in the office but I remember all the French people would try to talk to us about our president then as well. I mean it’s not a new thing, it felt a bit more attack-y with Trump but it was funny because I was in England also when Brexit was happening. So anytime, anyone tried to bring up Trump, I would just throw Brexit back at their faces. I’ll just be like, “Hmm. You guys put Brexit into action, I don’t think you can talk politics to me ever again.”
Alice: What do you think it means to be an expat?
Samantha: I don’t know. You’re always a bit torn. Because you know, I think anyone who moves to a new place, even in our country, it’s so big, so moving across the country is a hard thing. You have to start over. You have to learn who you are in that place, learn their culture, learn their customs and everything and try to assimilate as best as you can while at the same time, maintaining your sense of self and your sense of culture. I always still try to have a little thanksgiving dinner. But usually it’s like, you don’t eat thanksgiving food because they don’t make it easy to do that over here.
Samantha: It’s hard to get except for during Christmas time. Like the ovens are small so you know it’s not like a big thing, but we’ll have a potluck dinner or something or you know, I was trying to– I don’t know, share my culture as they’re sharing theirs. I don’t know, being an expat, it’s fun but at the same time, it’s also kind of like you’re always trying to forcibly insert yourself into people’s lives anytime and it’s like, “Oh, I’m going out for drinks with my friends.” Like, “Oh, well, I’m not doing anything,” so–
Alice: Good. I’m glad you’re making friends.
Samantha: Yes, I just went out for karaoke the other night, actually. It was really fun. I am very bad at singing.
Alice: It’s true.
Samantha: But we all were. So it was really great.
Alice: That’s fun. As a professional volleyball player, is there a difference between female and the male versions of volleyball in your opinion?
Samantha: I mean actually it’s pretty equal. Volleyball is one of those sports where the females are more dominant than the male.
Alice: How so?
Samantha: Well I mean, even think about in America, how many teams there are for women and how many teams there are for men. It’s very rare to have a men’s volleyball team whereas most schools have a women’s volleyball team and then most scholarships go towards the women’s volleyball team a lot of time because of Title 9. If you’re giving this much money to a certain program, you have to give this much money to the women’s program, so school’s with big basketball or football programs will usually filter that money down into women’s basketball, women’s volleyball, and women’s soccer for the most part, as the three sports are primarily women’s sports in America.
Alice: Is there a difference between the game? Is the game different?
Samantha: Oh, absolutely.
Alice: How so?
Samantha: It’s absolutely different. Well, guys jump much higher than us and can hit a lot harder than us just naturally, so their game is mostly serves and if you can win one service point, then usually you’re going to be ahead the rest of the game because it’s usually just a side out game, because you just put the ball up and then hit it as hard they possibly can and it most likely would go down and then it switches to next team serving and back and forth.
Whereas the women’s sport, we can jump up high, we can hit hard and everything, but we’re more about tactics and it’s more of a chess match, which I very much love. That’s one of my favorite parts of it. It’s trying to figure out and then getting into the heads of people and seeing what they’re going to do before they do it. I don’t know. So it’s fun.
I’m not saying that guys volleyball isn’t one of my favorite things to watch, because oh my gosh, they hit so hard, but I don’t know, I find girls usually just more interesting to watch because it’s fun to see how they play against each other and how they go and fight because over the course of the game, you start with a game strategy and then it’s usually it’s like, who can stop that strategy first and then once your strategy has stopped, you have to quickly adapt to the next one so you could go through two or three different game strategies. So it’s fun.
Alice: Another question I have about that is, why do you think women are making less money in the professional sport world than their male counterparts?
Samantha: Because no one goes to their games.
Samantha: Because people don’t go to their games because people—because companies don’t promote their games as much. I mean, not to be crass, but women’s volleyball is exactly what America would love. It’s exactly–
Alice: I love the AVP. I love it.
Samantha: Yes, there’s the AVP, but I’m talking about like, it’s amazing that there’s not a professional indoor league in America as well. We’re such a big country that we could have so many different teams, like they do for any other sport. Volleyball is one of the premiere women’s sports that girls go into and it just seems odd to me and it’s going to be a little inappropriate for a second, but we were spandex. That is a very—
Alice: Can you talk about that?
Samantha: That is a very marketable quality
Alice: I’m really curious about that too because your outfits, the female outfits playing volleyball, are very different than your male counterparts in both indoor and in beach. Why is that? Have you ever felt objectified because of that?
Samantha: Well I know of certain players that I will not name that had their agents tell them to get boob jobs, so that they could get more sponsors and some have some haven’t, and it’s worked for some, it’s not worked for others. It’s just, when you go into certain professions, you become more of a product than a person and you just kind of have to deal with that. So one of the things– that’s why, I’m very reluctant to do social media because I’m very reluctant to become a product. I know it’s really bad because for my profession, it’s important to be somewhat of a product so that you can get people to watch your games and support the team and get more sponsors and everything. But I don’t know, it’s just one of the things I’ve always been a little reluctant to, I don’t know, to join.
Alice: But why do you think there’s such a difference between the clothing? Why can’t you wear the long board shorts and the t-shirt?
Samantha: I don’t know. I think because I grew up in spandex. I have absolutely no problem with them. I think they’re really, really comfortable. I wear them under dresses. I wear them around the house. I hang out in them.
Samantha: I understand that they’re small and they may turn people off. I remember when I was younger, volleyball kind of attracted a different type of girl, sometimes because of what we were wearing was, you could have ben a cheerleader, but you’d be volleyball player because the outfits were cute.
Alice: I always thought tennis outfits were cute.
Samantha: I know. They’re so cute, right?
Samantha: The skirts all in white. Exactly.
Alice: I know. It’s so nice. Yes. I’m really just curious because it’s just progressed in such a different way.
Samantha: They actually were much more revealing before. They used to wear basically like a bathing suit bottoms for indoor games.
Samantha: Yes. Back in the 80’s I believe and you would tuck your shirt– your jersey into them and so they’ve actually gotten bigger, so surprise.
Alice: That’s interesting.
Samantha: Then, you can usually tell who the older professional girls are when I’m back home because everyone wears leggings because it keeps your legs warm but it’s still skin tight and everything but, you know, they’re easy to move in, it’s nice, you don’t feel restricted.
Alice: Yes. Just curious. Great. Let’s move on to different topic. I want to hear some wild travel stories. Give me one. Give it to me.
Samantha: Wild stories?
Alice: I know you have a million. Give me one.
Samantha: I mean, I can tell you about last night.
Samantha: It’s not too crazy but it was me and one of my roommates and two girls from Bulgaria that are on my team, they came over, we had a game night. We played poker with M&M’s all night.
Samantha: Then, this card game which is kind of Parcheesi, but it’s played with a cards as well as a game board, and you’re with a partner and it’s kind of about strategy and it was like, whatever someone did something like really good, really stupid, we make the other person drink something or do push up. I don’t know. So then it was the very end of the night and the two girls were hanging out looking over at our balcony because we have a lovely view. So we locked them outside and blasted Adele’s like, “Hello from the other side,” and danced at them. It was really cold. They didn’t have jackets. It was funny.
Alice: You’re a funny girl. Can you talk to me about your biggest success story? What would you think it is?
Samantha: I don’t know. I mean, what first comes to mind always is the Olympics silver medal that I have in a case at my parent’s house back home.
Alice: Yes, I like to touch it.
Samantha: I wear it occasionally whenever you guys start to annoy me.
Alice: I was wearing your Austrian medal the other day. Just around the house.
Alice: It makes me feel better.
Samantha: I think I don’t know. I think I value success in different ways though. I think, I don’t know, just me continuing to be able to play overseas is my biggest success story.
Alice: Yes, it’s wonderful.
Alice: What brings you back to America?
Samantha: My family, my friends,
Alice: Great. Yes because you were in America.
Alice: You were in America all summer.
Samantha: I’m not joking, tacos.
Alice: Yes. What would you say is your biggest take away about American culture?
Samantha: It’s so diverse. It’s so diverse. I always explain it when I’m talking to my friends here, basically, it’s the EU. The United States is the EU and then every state is its own country because we all have our own different cultures, our different ideas, our different laws. Actually, I run into quite a few problems with customs a lot of times because my documents won’t look the same as someone’s documents who is from North Carolina or someone from New York, because every state has their own set of laws and set of governances which means that they have their own documents, like birth certificates and everything. So they’ll look at mine and they’ll be like, “This isn’t what that other person’s looks like.” I’m like, “No. It doesn’t. I don’t know what to tell you.”
If you think about it, every state in America, and every little area of America, is so particular to its own people. Even though we’re all Americans and everything, being an American is such a diverse word. It’s unifying but it’s also nice in its differences and I don’t know, I think that definitely helps in this time, with all these political points of view and how separated we are. I don’t know, I feel like I have this view of America that’s a bit more how people view the EU and that you know, it’s a lot of people having a lot of problems because they all have different problems and all of their problems are valid even if we may not understand them because we don’t live where they live and experience what they experience.
Alice: Thank you, Samantha. I have another question for you. So if a woman walk up to you asking you for advice and you only had a few minutes to give her your best tip, what would it be?
Samantha: Oh gosh. My best tip?
Samantha: Find a way to find love yourself because you have to spend the rest of your life with yourself. I mean, it’s true. Sometimes, it’s a hard thing. When I was in Spain, it was very lonely because I was alone for most of the time because the girls had classes or work during the day and we only had practice at night so I’d spend most of the day alone. None of my friends or family were awake because it’s a big time difference and so, I had to figure out who I was. Stripped of a lot of the things that I thought I knew about myself, and get a lot of hobbies and learn to how to get out there and talk to people even though my Spanish is very bad. It’s getting better though, surprisingly. Surprisingly, here, I’m getting a lot better in Spanish.
Alice: That’s really weird.
Samantha: I don’t know. I’ve been watching a lot of Casa de Papel. I think it’s very important and if you’re having problems, just start liking yourself, and even if you love yourself, sometimes it’s hard to like yourself. And I’m not struggling with any kind of depression, because I am a very uplifting person of sorts, within my personality, I’m a very happy person but you know, but sometimes, it is lonely and you just– you have to like yourself. Sometimes it’s hard and sometimes it’s easy but you have to be with yourself. You can’t get away.
Alice: So, I just have a couple of fun ending questions for you today.
Samantha: Oh, good gosh.
Alice: If you were a pie, what flavor would you be?
Samantha: Okay, if I was a pie? I don’t know. I like apple rhubarb, it’s nice, with the crumble top from Julian.
Alice: It’s so good.
Samantha: It’s so good.
Alice: Okay. If they made a movie about your life, who would play you and why?
Samantha: Sir Patrick Stewart because it would be hilarious. I would love to see him in the volleyball scenes. I feel like he’d get really into it too.
Alice: Is there anything else you’d like to add to our viewers?
Samantha: Well, Brie Larson because she’s fabulous. She can do anything.
Alice: Oh, she’s pretty cool.
Samantha: She can do anything.
Alice: Anything else you’d like to add to everyone who’s watching?
Samantha: Be happy with your life because it’s the life you’re given and it’s your life you’re blessed with. And love your parents and your sisters. Call your friends. Keep working.
Alice: Thank you so much for being on today Samantha.
Samantha: Thank you for having me. I’m sorry for being kind of a downer.
Alice: Well, thank you for being on and thank you everyone who’s listening and watching. This is Samantha Cash and we we’re so happy to have her. So, bye.
Samantha: Bye. Love yourself.