Blue and Gold Illustrated

December 2022

Blue & Gold Illustrated: America's Foremost Authority on Notre Dame Football

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34 DECEMBER 2022 BLUE & GOLD ILLUSTRATED FOOTBALL RECRUITING BY ASHTON POLLARD A ccording to the 2018-19 NCAA Sports Sponsorship and Participation Rates Report, high school male athletes have a 5.9 percent chance of playing their re- spective sport at the NCAA level. For fe- males, the number is 6 percent. That means there is just a 0.35 per- cent chance of male-female siblings reaching that goal. But twins Sam and Emma Pendleton are used to overcoming the odds. Origi- nally, Jason and April Pendleton didn't think they could have children. "It wasn't really supposed to be in the realm of possibility that Sam and Emma would be here," April said. Sam and Emma were born as a re- sult of in vitro fertilization, otherwise known as IVF. They arrived in this world six weeks early and weighed less than 6 pounds each. They were originally part of a set of triplets, but the third baby was never born. Further, Sam was born with an en- larged kidney, and he has since been through seven surgeries. He was not supposed to be able to play sports at all. Fast-forward 17 years. Sam, a four- star recruit and the No. 24 interior of- fensive lineman in the country per the On3 Consensus Rankings, is headed to play football at Notre Dame in January as an early enrollee. Emma will head to Lenoir-Rhyne University in September 2023 where she will play center for the women's basketball team. The Pendleton twins overcame the odds. Again. A BUILT-IN BEST FRIEND Sam and Emma hail from a small town near Winston-Salem, N.C., and grew up in a rural area on a farm. Since birth, the twins have been inseparable. Their par- ents instilled a "family over everything" mentality in them from a young age. "Being twins, you have a built-in best friend," Emma said. "We're really close," Sam added. The two grew up in a sports family. Jason played offensive line at William & Mary, while April would have likely played college basketball if not for an injury. She attended Virginia Tech. The twins had their first experiences with organized athletics before they headed to kindergarten. Jason and April threw the kids into swimming at age 4. Emma was a backstroker and breast- stroker, while Sam could do all four strokes, although he was best at both freestyle and butterfly. Sports came a bit more naturally to Sam, but both children were athletic. His drive became abundantly clear from the moment he chased down a swimmer in the lane next to him during an early meet. "At that moment, we realized he had a button," April said. "That's what we call his competitive side." From there, Sam and Emma went through the typical carousel of youth sports. They played T-ball and basket- ball on the same teams, and Sam played flag football until he could play in pads. From third grade until entering high school at Pfafftown (N.C.) Reagan High, April — a former high school educator — homeschooled Sam and Emma. The routine allowed her to set the schedule and get through school days without wasting much time so they could head to their respective sports. Sam and Emma played coed basket- ball until fifth grade, and April served as their coach. That gave her a "front-row seat" in their lives, while they tried to find their respective passions. "It was the greatest treasure," April said. Of course, it also made the carpool situation much easier. PERSONALITIES DIVERGE As Sam and Emma continued to grow and go their separate ways in sports, their differing personalities began to shine through. "I would categorize Sam's personality as a social butterfly," Emma said. "He's certainly more outgoing." He gets that "never met a stranger" trait from his mother, while Emma's personality more closely resembles that of her father — more introverted and content with her smaller group of friends. Irish Commit Sam Pendleton And His Twin Sister, Emma, Overcame The Odds To Play College Sports Jason and April Pendleton (middle) have three children: Emma (left), Eli and Sam (right). Emma is set to play basketball at Lenoir-Rhyne University, while Sam pledged to play football for the Fighting Irish. PHOTO COURTESY OF APRIL PENDLETON

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