Klickitat's Savannah Green returns after 10 days Down Under
August 8, 2018
At first, it seemed too good to be true when soon to be Klickitat junior Savannah Green got a letter addressed to her from Down Under Sports just under a year ago.
The letter, which Green received when she was in class last school year, invited her to represent Washington on the 2018 Track and Field team that would compete at the Down Under Games in Queensland, Australia.
She initially thought of how cool it would be to accept the invitation and travel out of the country for the first time, but also realized it would be a long, tough process to get everything squared away for a 10 day trip in a foreign country.
"It was an automatic no at first," Green said. "(My mom's) not letting me go across the world by myself."
But her mom, Sherry, was more than supportive to turn the invitation into a reality.
With her mom now on board, there was a lot of work to do for the pair before the sign-up deadline listed in the invitation.
First and foremost was financing the 10 day trip to The Land Down Under. Savannah used all the traditional fundraising opportunities, a bake sale, selling designed T-shirts, and pledging for money from family members. But fundraising is easier said than done in the small town of Klickitat.
Sherry, who didn't want her daughter to go by herself to Australia, which is over 7,000 miles from home, was unsure at first if she would be able to make the trip with Savannah.
Sherry works in the construction business, and with summer being the busiest time of the year for her, didn't know if she would be able to take time off in mid-July to accompany Savannah.
Sherry's been working for Scheduling and Information Services (SIS) in Stevenson since 2006 and has become pretty good friends with her boss Carol Bolstad, and her husband, Tony. Savannah also has done a little work at SIS, job shadowing and doing some training with Sherry in the past. She also is planning on potentially another job shadow with the company down the road with Carol and Tony at the SIS satellite office in South Padre Island, Texas.
But when Carol heard about Savannah's opportunity to go Down Under, she was more than supportive.
"Carol told me in the beginning we would be stupid to pass up such an opportunity for Savannah," Sherry said.
The Bolstad's helped the Greens out with a donation and picked up a couple extra projects that would allow Sherry to get the time off to travel with her daughter.
With everything set for the trip, which was quite the process according to both Greens, the last thing to do was for Savannah to confirm online and they would be all set.
The day finally came for the two to fly out on July 8. They started in Portland, made a stop in Canada, and 14 hours later were in Queensland, a state in the northeastern part of the country with over 4.5 million people.
Right after stepping off the plane, both marveled at the new and different scenery they hadn't witnessed before.
"I definitely thought it was gorgeous," Savannah said. "The views were a lot different. It was a lot cleaner. Everything was so nice over there."
Although the weather Down Under wasn't what you would expect it to be around this time of year. Savannah told me it actually was winter down there now, but enjoyed temperatures in the 70s and low 80s for the 10 days they were there, although the nights got a little chilly.
In Australia, Green's time was about split between practicing and getting free time to explore and enjoy the country.
On days when there wasn't a meet scheduled, Green would practice and get in some training sessions early and into the afternoon, and would have the rest of the day to do as she and her mother pleased. They took advantage of the unique opportunities that The Land Down Under offered.
They held koala bears and pet kangaroos at the Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary, went to an iFLY facility and went indoor skydiving, and took surf lessons for a couple of hours, although Sherry admits to getting battered around by the waves.
On their last day, they flew up the Gold Coast to Lady Elliot Island where they went snorkeling around the Great Barrier Reef and got to see whales, turtles, and manta rays.
When she was competing, she was at the Queensland Sport and Athletics Centre, a facility which includes two international standard tracks, a 48,500 seat main stadium, and an eight court beach volleyball complex.
Green has advanced to the state track meet in each of her first two seasons with the Vandals, but competing in as big an atmosphere as in Queensland blew her away.
Green estimated there to be around 1,000 or so competitors at the meets, with many more parents and spectators filling the stands.
Being from Klickitat and competing in a smaller league, Green really hasn't had the opportunity to witness and attend any big-time track meets. She has competed at the state meet, but said it doesn't come close to the size of the meet in Australia. She enjoyed the size of the meet and being around that many people with the same enthusiasm for the sport.
"Well they were a lot bigger (in Australia). Tons bigger," Green said. "There were so many people there."
On the big stage in Australia, Green took third place in the javelin 16-17 year old age group with a 33.67 meter throw, which translates to just over 110 feet, which would be her farthest recorded throw during competition.
Her first year competing at the state meet at Eastern Washington University, she reached the podium after an eighth place throw of 106 feet, 10 inches, which stood as her farthest throw until she eclipsed it in Australia.
The javelin is her best event, but Green also competed in the 100 meter hurdle event, where she finished around the 20 second mark in both her races.
She returned home and continued her busy summer with a volleyball camp in White Salmon, and starts fall practice in the upcoming weeks, but she won't soon forget the Down Under experience.
"I'm really thankful for my coaches, my parents, and everyone who was able to make this opportunity possible for me," Green said.