Getting a job at Wall Street is the dream of many young graduates. However, when Sam Mattis completed his internship at JPMorgan Chase, his superiors were so impressed with his output that they offered him permanent employment.
Then a fresh graduate from the University of Pennsylvania in 2016, Mattis turned down the offer and decided to make a living throwing discus. The athlete started competing in sports during his days at East Brunswick High. At Penn, he won an NCAA title and that inspired him to stick to the sport.
“It’s the outright dream of most boys to be a professional athlete,” Mattis told NJ.com. “I never really thought that would be my path, but after I won NCAAs for Penn in 2015, I thought, ‘Maybe I can do this for real.’”
Six years down the line and Mattis has qualified to participate in the Summer Games in Tokyo, Japan. He qualified this past weekend in Eugene, Oregon. This will make him the first Penn track and field athlete to compete at the Games since Michael Aguilar ran in the 400-meter hurdles for Belize in the 2004 Olympics, according to Daily Pennsylvania.
Also, Mattis will become the first Penn track and field athlete since 1976 decathlon competitor Fred Samara to represent the U.S. at the Olympics. The African-American athlete qualified for the games after placing third in the men’s discus trials.
When Mattis made the decision to leave Morgan Chase to pursue his Olympic dream, he did not have a stable source of income and spent the succeeding years working odd jobs. “At first, I wasn’t making money from the track,” said the discus athlete, who recently placed 9th at the 2019 World Athletic Championships in Qatar. “To pay the bills, I worked in marketing for a pharmacist in my area. I worked for a company that tried to be an Uber for laundry in 2019. Then, this past year I started up a supplement company and did a lot of sports betting and blackjack just to try to get by.”
Also, Mattis was hired as a volunteer assistant coach for the Rutgers track and field team. He was not paid for the role but it offered him the opportunity to use their facilities. However, when COVID-19 struck, the facility was closed down.
Left with no training facility, Mattis returned to Pennsylvania and created a local training facility with six of his colleagues. It was in this facility that he trained for his final steps towards the Olympics.