Former Evart standout completes collegiate career
EVART -- A memorable sports career has ended for Mara VanOrder who displayed her talents at Evart before taking them to Cornerstone University's track program.
VanOrder had a standout career at Evart where she also ran cross country and played basketball. But she shined with track and field where she was an All-Stater in 2016 in the high school. She graduated in 2016.
At college, highlights were 2020 indoor Wolverine Hoosier Athletic Conference champion in the 4x800 and 2019 indoor All American in the 4x800.
2019 Indoor All-American (4x800)
These were her personal bests:
100 - 14.20; 200 - 27.80; 400 - 1:00.71; 600 - 1:39.60; 800 - 2:26.74; high jump, 1.57 and javelin throw 26.34.
VanOrder was an indoor and outdoor track athlete four years. But her outdoor season was curtailed when the NCAA shut down sports because of the corona virus.
"My biggest highlight was being All-American as a junior," she said. "This previous season, I was 4-x-800 WHAC champion indoor. It was fun. Another highlight would be having the opportunity to try new events. I wasn't really an 800 runner in high school, so I was able to progress. I had the opportunity to high jump and throw javelin. That was fun to be able to broaden my skills and have people utilize my athleticism in more ways than just the 400."
As for not having an outdoor season, "it's difficult to invest so much into a sport and not get the proper closure and not have the chance to say like it's my last time to run the 400 and have my opportunity to get a good time in the 400," VanOrder said. "I was super-excited about jav season. I learned a lot of skills about javelin. I just started throwing javelin last spring. I was predicted to do pretty well this outdoor season after practicing it a lot this all year.
"It's a bummer, it really is. Track wasn't just a sport for me in college. Track was my life. The teammates I ran with were my best friends. They were my classmates, people I ate with and ate dinner in the cafeteria with every night. It was a close-knit community I found myself in.
"To not be able to say goodbye to a lot of my teammates was really hard. I had 24 hours to get out of the dorm I was living in. I packed up all my stuff and came to Evart. Here I am. It's been hard, not just athletically but academically."
VanOrder will be graduating in May with a Bachelor's degree in social work.
"I'm still studying and finishing up some projects and papers, all online," she said.
VanOrder is planning on finishing up on her masters degree in social work at Western Michigan University starting in July. She will work full-time as a social worker at an undetermined sport.
"My career goal is to work in the mental health area and be a counselor," she said.
Cornerstone coach Andy Wright appreciated having VanOrder on his team.
"I've been with the program and little over a year, but when I came in, her attitude was amazing," Wright said. "I've coached several other places as well. She went all in and kind of bought into what we were trying to change around. She was an All-American last year. She's the kind of person who works hard with a great attitude, and uplifted her teammates and is super supportive."