After another summer of hard work, Ferrara came into his senior indoor season in the best shape of his life. But when the season began he felt his jumps weren’t matching his fitness.
“The heights weren’t showing it and I’m like ‘I don’t know what I’m not doing right,’” Ferrara said. “But Andy [Fetzner] told me with patience comes greatness and that I had to stay focused on what I do and don’t change anything.”
Fetzner’s advice paid off and by the end of the season, Ferrara had set his own record several more times and was on his way to his second NCAA National meet after qualifying with a jump of 16 feet, 2 inches during the ECAC Championships.
To claim his national title, Ferrara beat nine of the nation’s top Division III pole vaulters, including a competitor from the host school, North Central College (Ill.), a school that Ferrara considers to be the “home of pole vault.”
In the end, Ferrara cleared a height of 16 feet, 8 1/4 inches, nearly two full inches higher than the runner up.
“Every season I ask the kids for their goal,” Fetzner said. “Usually they fill out the document I give them. This year Zach handed me a pole vault manifesto full of his goals and specific items he wanted to do and to win. In this he said he believed that through hard training and good coaching he could bring a national title to Brockport. That’s exactly what he did.”
The moment Ferrara cleared the title winning height was described by Fetzner as nothing short of pandemonium.
“At the national meet in Chicago our goal was to be an All-American,” Fetzner said. “When we achieved that Ed [Jaskulski], our head coach, sent me a text that said ‘now win this!’ Not much longer I was cheering as Zach cleared 16 feet, 8 1/4 inches, gave him a huge hug and looked back at Ed [Jaskulski] going nuts as we won.”
It wasn’t until this past year that Ferrara did something major in outdoor, though.
“I always feel like I have some type of mental block when I get to outdoor,” Ferrara said.
Last weekend, Ferrara claimed his first outdoor SUNYAC title with a jump of 15 feet, 11 inches, finally breaking the “mental block” that plagued him his entire career.
The legacy of Brockport pole vaulting is not going to wither and die once Ferrara graduates. Not only has Ferrara expressed the desire to stay around and help out the next generation of vaulters while he completes his master’s degree, but there is already young talent getting ready to attempt to fill Ferrara’s sizeable shoes.
Freshman Cameron Shaughnessy has had a break-out first season and has been giving Ferrara some stiff competition during both the indoor and outdoor seasons.
“Cam’s [Shaughnessy] coming up and it’s awesome watching him develop,” Ferrara said. “He has the drive and the determination. If you have the drive that kid has, you will achieve greatness … I’m [kind of] watching him do his thing and with all the knowledge from all the great mentors I had as a freshman, I just want to give him that same experience.”
Looking forward, Ferrara said he wants to continue his own vaulting career with the ultimate goal of reaching the Olympic trials.
“The best way to describe Zach Ferrara would be to interview every coach out there and ask them what kind of athletes they like on their team,” Fetzner said. “Zach is exactly that athlete times 20.”