ALLPORT — Many athletes start playing a variety of sports at a young age and end up concentrating on just one or two as they get further into high school.
Not West Branch’s Sarah Betts.
She began playing basketball, soccer and softball at early levels and not only continued the whole way throughout her high school career, but excelled at all of them. Betts even picked up a fourth sport — football — in her junior year.
To date, she has earned 12 varsity letters (four in soccer, three in both softball and basketball and two in football) and could end up with 14 when all is said and one.
“The thing I like best about playing sports is the competition,” Betts said. “I also like being able to make new friends each year. Playing sports also makes me a better person and a better leader.”
One of five daughters to Dan and the late Sue Betts, Sarah was exposed to a variety of sports growing up since all of her sisters played. Her oldest sibling Rachelle played softball and was involved in cheerleading; Mary ran cross county and played basketball and softball; Ruthie played soccer and softball and Hannah is currently a member of the soccer, basketball and softball teams with Sarah.
Sarah was able to be on many of the same high school teams as Ruthie and Hannah and got to share in some of her most memorable moments with them.
“My favorite game I ever played in is our district playoff game for soccer in 2019 (against Moshannon Valley), because we were the first girl’s soccer team to win districts from our school,” Betts said. “I was also the second female kicker for the football team in our school’s history.
“Another accomplishment I had was breaking the records for the number of shutouts in one season, and the number of career shutouts for soccer. I enjoyed these moments because they helped me realize why I play the sports I do and why I need to keep working harder.”
Betts was the winning goalie in two District 6 title games, including a masterful performance in a 2-1 victory over Bishop Guilfoyle on Nov. 3, just a couple days after her mother passed away after a long battle with cancer.
“My mom was always my role model and she always will be,” Betts said. “She is my role model because she always taught me to fight, she was the strongest person I know and she continues to make me work harder to make her proud.”
Betts is currently getting ready for her fourth varsity season of basketball, which she says is her favorite sport.
“Basketball is my favorite sport because I enjoy the intensity of the game, and being able to play multiple positions,” she said.
West Branch is just beginning practice this week and will not be able to start a condensed schedule due to COVID-19 until later this month.
“Playing sports during the COVID-19 pandemic has really changed my outlook on them and how I go about playing them,” Betts said. “I now see how much all my sports were a really big part of my life and it started to make me appreciate them a lot more. I also started playing every game like it was my last because we never knew if things could be shut down.”
In addition to playing sports, Betts in involved in Varsity Club and National Honor Society in high school and likes spending time with her friends and family while not in school.
Betts plans to further her academic and athletic career at the next level.
“My future plans are to attend Juniata College to become a radiation therapist,” she said. “I plan to play either soccer, basketball, or both at Juniata.”