SUMMIT, NJ — When Summit resident Samiyah Abdur-Rahim decided this past May that her college destination would be Texas Christian University, she joined in a family tradition of playing college sports.
The Montclair Kimberley Academy senior outside hitter is one of the state’s leaders in kills. She has learned a great deal from her dad, Shareef Abdur-Rahim, who enjoyed a 13-year NBA career after starting at the University of California, and her big brother, Jabri, who is currently playing hoops for the University of Georgia after transferring from Virginia —and after being a scholastic standout at both Seton Hall Prep and Blair Academy.
Plus, five of her uncles played college basketball.
The MKA senior standout signed her national letter of intent on the NCAA’s National Signing Day, Wednesday, Nov. 9, to make her commitment to TCU official.
“Growing up in that lifestyle where athletics are big, but also academics, I learned from both my dad and brother about the importance of hard work both on and off the court,” said Samiyah Abdur-Rahim, a dominant 6-foot-2-inch volleyball standout who is equally proficient around the net and on the backline. “They taught me the importance of always pushing myself to be a better player and person, and to strive to be a role model not only for myself but for other people as well.
“l always have tried to be a good teammate and friend, and I will look to also take that attitude and skills I’ve learned throughout my life wherever sports and my education take me.”
Samiyah Abdur-Rahim finished with 287 kills, 161 digs, 119 service points, 10 blocks and 67 aces, leading MKA to a solid 16-6 season, 10-4 in the Super Essex Conference–American Division.
The Cougars had been ranked 19th in the state by NJ.com in September, when the team got off to a 6-1 start that included a solid 2-1 win against then–20th-ranked Verona.
However, a three-match losing streak, including a 2-0 setback in its second conference match vs. the Hillbillies and a second setback of the season to SEC power and then–11th-ranked Livingston, put MKA in a mini-slump, before the team rebounded with three straight wins, including a 2-0 triumph against Stuart Day in the first round of the state Prep B Tournament.
The top-seeded Cougars then went out and defeated Mount St. Dominic Academy, 2-1, to capture the prep championship on Monday, Oct. 17, at Rutgers Prep in Somerset.
Samiyah Abdur-Rahim, who had 50 kills in her first three matches this season, was named the SEC Player of the Week for Sept. 8-13. She had terrific performances in a pair of SEC matches, recording 12 kills, 12 digs, 5 service points and three aces in a 2-0 win against independent school rival Newark Academy on Monday, Oct. 3.
Then, against Millburn High School, in another 2-0 MKA triumph on Oct. 6, she had 10 kills, 4 digs, 6 service points and 4 aces.
Coming off a fabulous junior season in which she had 289 kills and 198 digs, Samiyah Abdur-Rahim has simply kept it all going strong and now has more than 700 kills for her illustrious scholastic career.
The super kill artist around the net trains year-round; she plays for a club team, USANY, in New York City and travels to camps and clinics in California, as volleyball is one of that state’s biggest sports.
While she has enjoyed her four years at MKA, she feels she has found another comfortable school setting at TCU.
“Everything just felt so at home on my visit there, and the coaching staff has been very supportive, which I believe will facilitate my growth both on and off court,” said Samiyah Abdur-Rahim. “Plus, I love the combination of academics and athletics I can have in such a competitive conference.
“I’ve enjoyed MKA so much. It is a great school with terrific teachers, and our team dynamic plays a big role in our success in volleyball, with great girls and excellent coaches.”
The Cougars are directed by a former star MKA player, first-year head coach Kennedy Robinson, a two-time SEC Player of the Year with the Cougars who also played one year at the University of Alabama before transferring to Rutgers, where she decided to retire as a college player.
Robinson has continued her close association with the game, coaching on the club level with Sideout Sports in Fairfield and also serving as an assistant for the boys volleyball team at Passaic Arts & Science Charter School, working with her former MKA coach, Mike Tully.
Coming in as a rookie head coach at her high school alma mater has been a joy for Robinson, especially with the talent she has inherited, led by her Division I–bound senior outside hitter.
“I’m so happy with the talent I walked into here,” she said. “And for Samiyah, the sky is the limit.
“She is such a dedicated athlete and does such a tremendous job at leading by example both on and off the court.
“She gets that key first ball kill, is superb in our passing game and also serves so well, many times having a string of service points.
“TCU is gaining an absolute gem of a player and person, that’s for sure!”
Photos Courtesy of Steve Tober and MKA Athletics