By Briana Zuccarelli, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - When she was in first grade, Christi Vetter picked up a hockey stick for the first time. Now, in her senior season at Penn State, she has much to be proud of.
"In my 21 years of coaching, there are two other kids, and her, that are the three best shot blockers that I've seen from that wing position," head coach Jeff Kampersal said. "She's the type of player that can take care of herself and, at the same time, take care of her teammates."
Vetter began her recruiting process in the eighth grade, but said it was only because she was playing with an older group of girls.
"I eventually committed in the middle of my sophomore year," Vetter said. "It's something that I am so happy for. I had the opportunity to attend so many schools and meet so many different coaches and players."
Vetter had always known athletics was the way she wanted to go through schooling and that college was her 'pro hockey' at the time. Even from Lakeville, Minnesota, Vetter knew Penn State was something special.
"Penn State is known worldwide for its academic and athletic excellence," Vetter said. "When I was doing my recruiting process, I originally wanted to be a doctor so I knew I needed to find a school that could help me get there."
However, when Vetter arrived on campus and began her collegiate hockey career, it didn't go as she had planned. In her freshman season, Vetter slipped a disk in her back and continued to battle this injury through her sophomore year. Vetter recalled that her junior season was when she finally started to feel like herself again.
"I think the biggest thing for her (Vetter) has been health," Kampersal said. "But she's done an excellent job at staying healthy."
Teammates know that Vetter, who is experiencing her best season yet, is someone they can count on to get the job done.
"Vetter and I, we're kind of known as the PK killers together," freshman forward Natalie Heising said. "Whenever we are on the penalty kill, I feel really confident with Vetter out there. I know she's going to do her job and I'm going to do mine."
Heising continued to say that Vetter is always someone the team depends on, even when they are off the ice.
"In preseason, I remember the team was running in Holuba Hall and it's not fun for anybody," Heising said. "But Vetter was cheering everybody on and was being so encouraging. She always goes that extra step, even in the most difficult circumstances."
With a smile on his face, Kampersal explained that Vetter has the experience and confidence to use her voice in a positive way and help the younger players.
"I want to lead by example," Vetter added. "I want people to feel confident enough to talk to me about classroom stuff or if things are going wrong. At the same time, when I'm on the ice, I'm going to give my teammates everything and do it to the best of my ability."
With nine games left in the season, Kampersal is hopeful that Vetter will add more goals to her season-high of six, and continue to lead the Nittany Lions, both on and off the ice.