Monday, December 31, 2012

Herriman football: Stetson Sartor profile

In late December, I interviewed Herriman (Utah) football player Stetson Sartor. A shoulder injury forced him to miss a few games during his senior season, but the transformation he made in his two years playing at Herriman will likely make a big difference in his life. Here is the article that will appear in the Herriman 2012 football yearbook.

Stetson Sartor:

Troubles in his junior year made him
a better player – and a better person

By Bruce Smith

            There were a lot of players Herriman coach Larry Wilson was proud to coach during the 2012 season. Stetson Sartor was one.
            Most of Sartor’s accolades were behind the scenes. He was injured for most of his senior season. He caught seven passes for 95 yards and a touchdown, and had 17 tackles on defense. He missed four games – and most of a fifth – due to a nagging shoulder injury.
            Despite having to wear a sling on his right arm most of the time, he said he’ll remember the season mostly for the bond he developed with the rest of his teammates.
            “I still went to practice and every game,” he said. “I helped coach my position.”
            Wilson, and the rest of Herriman’s coaches, noticed.
            “He represents why high-school sports are so important,” Wilson said. “He wasn’t a great athlete, but he was one of our ‘poster kids.’ He bought into the program and grew up.”
            Sartor was a two-year varsity player. At just 5-foot-9 and 160 pounds, he played cornerback and wide receiver. During the middle of his junior season, he got into some off-field troubles and was suspended for two games.
            Sartor was hesitant to talk about it, but the incident – and how he handled it – played a key role in his success later.
            “I was kind of selfish and I got into trouble,” he said. “My mindset just slipped, but something clicked after(ward). I knew what I did and it wasn’t how I wanted to be. I changed this year and I had to do it for the coaches and the team, and not myself.”
            “He could have gone either way, but we saw a 180-degree change in his attitude and effort,” said Wilson. “It’s the reason we (coaches) do what we do.”
            Sartor came back a new man. In his first game back – vs. Clearfield – he had five tackles and his first interception, which he returned 45 yards for an interception. He had a career-high six tackles in Herriman’s play-in game against Springville, and another pick in the Logan game.
            Later, he decided to try out for the Herriman track team and qualified for the 4A state meet in the 100 and 200 meters, as well as the long jump.
            He had high hopes for 2012 – and he started off well. He had four catches for 42 yards and a touchdown in Herriman’s game against Riverton at Rice-Eccles Stadium. At the same time, though, his shoulders began to give him problems.
            “My shoulders starting popping in and out at the beginning of the year (season),” he recalled. “It was random, and they would go away, but they got worse as we got into the season. In one of the last plays (of the game) against Hillcrest, it popped but I thought it would go away. I practiced all week. Then, in the Skyline game, it popped again on the first play.”
            It ended up being a hairline fracture and it hurt – a lot. The Herriman training staff put him on the sidelines, and a doctor confirmed it.
            For over a month, Sartor could only watch and cheer on his teammates. Finally, a couple of days before Herriman’s playoff game vs. East, his doctor approved him to play. He couldn’t wait to spread the news.
            “I didn’t know if he (the doctor) was going to tell me if I needed surgery, or if I’d be OK,” Sartor said. “When he told me, it was a good feeling. I emailed the coaches right after I got out of the doctor’s office. I texted my friends, too, and practiced the next day.”
            Sartor wa limited to offense in the East game, but had two catches for 25 yards. His “never quit” attitude, combined with how much he had impressed the coaches the previous season, made him a favorite.
            Sartor’s improved attitude has shown in other areas, too. In the winter, he cheered on the Herriman boys basketball team and also worked as a referee in area Junior Jazz games. He said he planned to compete in track again in the spring, and hoped it could lead to a college scholarship.
            “I like mano-vs.-mano competition,” he said. “It’s like competing against yourself to try to be better.”

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I am the author of Matchup, which provides yearbooks to high school sports teams, commemorating their seasons.