By Jeremy McDonald
STAYTON, Ore.— Friday was just another day in helping the Canyon for Regis’ Sara Vetter. Working with a teacher from Santiam High School up in Mill City setting up backpacks full of essential materials for people on the mend from the recent Wildfires from September.
The backpacks were just one of the few things Vetter has helped out with, having lent a helping hand with the ‘Cans for the Canyon’ event, seeing donations of cans coming in by the bushel for those affected just a few miles up the hill.
For Vetter, it was just another day. And though she wasn’t personally affected, she’s grateful to lend a hand in helping someone who was. No matter if it is a small impact or a big one, she is there helping the community she is living in. It is part of her personality.
“Helping with the Cans for the Canyon and putting together the backpacks for the kids and teenagers who were impacted by the fires has been a wholly positive experience,” Vetter said Friday. “I’m very lucky to have not been personally affected by the fires, and I’m happy to help those who were for a few reasons. First, lots of people lost everything, and with all of the problems in the world right now it feels good to be able to make even a small impact. I feel as though I have a responsibility to do what I can for the community.
“I’m so grateful for the opportunities I’ve had to help, not only because it’s part of my personality, but it’s also great to keep busy nowadays with school and sports being the way they are right now because of COVID. I’ve always been the type of person who has a lot on my plate all the time, and the pandemic has affected a lot of activities, giving everyone a lot more downtime. That’s taken a pretty big emotional toll on my peers and I, and having things to do, especially things like this that have a positive impact, are a huge help.”
When it comes to sports, it was who she is. Vetter did a lot of them growing up. Pointing out that she can’t think of a sport she didn’t do. They taught her a lot while bringing her closer to some of her favorite people.
Her focus sports wise now at Regis features Volleyball, where the Rams reached the 2A First-Round in 2019 with a 12-8 overall record, as well as Track. The two sports she’s been participating in since she was nine or ten. In Track, Vetter finished 12th in 2A as a sophomore in the Spring of 2019 in both the javelin and the 100-meter hurdles.
And though she qualified for State as a ‘wild card’ after hitting a ten-foot PR at districts (99-feet-five-inches) and shaving nearly a second off her hurdles sprint, she felt like she could’ve done better on High School’s biggest stage.
“To be completely honest, I was really disappointed in my performance in both events at that meet. I was stressed because they started at the same time, and I think the overall experience just had me nervous,” Vetter started. “Nevertheless, I was happy to be there, but mainly just excited to have that first experience under my belt so I could go back the next year and do much better. That obviously didn’t happen because of the pandemic.”
The Coronavirus Pandemic had put the active athlete on the shelf, probably more so than she wanted as by May she got back into it with Jake Forshey. Working out with the Volleyball group and started lifting which carried over with her doing track again.
Working with her coach and friend Dave Johnson, alongside brother Lockie, went to work with track. Competing in virtual meets, which was an oddity in nature mentioned Vetter, but nonetheless PR’d once more in one of her first throws of the meets.
“The virtual meets were really strange. We just did the events by ourselves and had people filming us, and it’s hard to feel competitive when you aren’t actually around anyone else,” said Vetter, who threw 109-feet-six-inches as her PR. “Especially with the hurdles, it’s hard to push yourself when you aren’t chasing or trying to stay ahead of someone. But it was nice to be out there!”
It wasn’t until about that time where she started to consider starting the recruiting process. Vetter doesn’t know exactly how it happened, but she joined the NCSA recruiting website over the Summer and started exploring the possibility of throwing in college.
Late start for sure Vetter admits, but she started to get a few messages and eventually got one from a coach at the University of Chicago.
“I hadn’t looked into the school because I didn’t think I wanted to be in the city, but after some research and a couple phone calls it became my first choice,” described Vetter. “To be recruited, I had to apply for an early decision, which meant if I got in then I had to withdraw any other applications. It was a bit of a risk, but after taking a weekend to see the campus in person and completely falling in love, I decided to go for it. It’s the only school I applied to, and I was so excited when the coach called me to say I was going to receive an acceptance letter.”
The Illinois-based University is a NCAA Division-III college where Vetter will be doing both the hurdles and javelin, perhaps shot put as well during the indoor season.
In the meantime, she’s not going to take anything for granted. Doing whatever she can to build confidence in herself as an athlete and doing more work independently. With the situation that many like herself are going through in 2020, it’s a matter of turning lemons into lemonade.
“It’s pretty unfortunate that all of this is going on during senior year, but I’m still trying to make the best of it. If I’ve learned anything in the past few months, it’s to not take things for granted,” Vetter said. “Whether or not we have a season, when the gym is open I’ll keep working out, and I’ll also keep working on track the way I have been.
“My goal is simply to improve as much as I can before going to college, and to take it seriously in order to prepare for that. I think I have many areas where I can improve, and training at the next level will prove that. I know that the next few years will be full of growth for me, and I’m really looking forward to it.”