Student-Athlete Spotlight | Rachel Farr
Soccer standout overcomes adversity
At the end of perhaps the hardest year of her life, Yakima Valley College star forward Rachel Farr has overcome a variety of challenges to graduate and continue her playing career at the Division I level.
But she almost missed her opportunity to compete at the college level, despite starting to play the game not long after taking her first steps.
“My family is a big soccer family,” Farr said. “I played competitively since I was 8, my two brothers played and my dad played his entire life.”
While soccer was where she found her friends, Farr considered quitting soccer her junior year of high school in Riverton, Utah. With only a few options to play at the collegiate level in her home state, it seemed her chances for an opportunity were low.
Just at that time, however, Farr met former YVC head coach Abigail Drollinger during a recruiting visit.
“Abby was very communicative about the process and her coaching so it was an obvious choice,” said Farr. “The deal maker was that it was away from home and I was ready to grow up a bit.”
“Some of the best players I’ve played with weren’t the best athletes but they put in the work to be good. I’ve been blessed with some talent, but without my hard work, I wouldn’t be anywhere.” — Rachel Farr
A wild ride
After a mixed start to the 2021 season, the Yaks carried a 4-3 record into a key mid-season home match with Columbia Basin College.
“They hadn’t been scored on all season to that point, but that’s the game we finally connected the dots,” said Farr, who scored in the 2-0 victory. “That was the first moment where we felt, ‘this is paying off.’ It’s hard being away from home and buying into the mindset that we’re here to work. In that game, everyone decided, we’re going to work, we’re going to be team players and we’re going to trust the process.”
The team would eventually compile a 9-5 record, but just missed reaching the playoffs in the tough East Region of the Northwest Athletic Conference.
Following the season, however, Farr and her teammates faced uncertainty with Drollinger’s departure and the search for a new head coach.
“Being a team without a coach is hard, it was a lot of work to get players to keep sticking together as a team,” Farr said. “It was a relief when [Head Coach Josh Vega] was on board.”
After a freshman season in which Farr scored four goals and had another four assists on the way to being named East Region First Team, she took her game to another level in 2022. Two-thirds of the way through the season, she had racked up nine goals and six assists.
But shortly after halftime in a match against Spokane Community College, Farr suffered a season-ending knee injury.
“I’d never had to sit out like that before,” Farr said. “I’ve never had to be on the sidelines not on my own terms.”
Farr refused to let the injury get her down though.
“I wanted to be there at practice and be as positive as I could be,” Farr said. “Rehab sucks really bad, I’ve never been challenged like that in my entire life. It was really frustrating but I’ve also had to learn about myself in that process. The biggest thing for the team was still showing up — just because I’m not playing doesn’t mean I’m not a teammate.”
Despite not playing a full season, Farr was named East Region Co-MVP and in February signed with Division I Portland State University.
“I’ll have been lucky to play at two schools, not many people have this opportunity,” Farr said. “Some of the best players I’ve played with weren’t the best athletes but they put in the work to be good. I’ve been blessed with some talent, but without my hard work, I wouldn’t be anywhere.”
Overcoming and helping others
While Farr’s knee injury this past season has been the most serious of her career, she’s previously dealt with quad injuries. Yet those injuries also helped provide inspiration for her future.
“My junior year in high school, I tore both quads in practice,” she said. “I went to see a physical therapist and he was a really cool person and I just thought how interesting that work would be helping people recover.”
Farr has taken three quarters of biology classes at YVC as she pursues her goal of becoming a physical therapist. She credits her biology instructor, Amanda Gall, for helping her succeed in her studies.
“Those biology classes were some of the hardest classes I’ve ever taken but I loved them,” Farr said. “I loved learning about how the body works and understanding what happens when you drink a glass of water or what’s going on when you get the chills.”
As a physical therapist, Farr looks forward to combining that knowledge of the human body with the ability to encourage patients during what can be difficult and long recovery periods.
“With my knee injury this season, my physical therapist was so patient and helped me trust the process to get back to normal,” she said. “I think a lifetime of helping athletes get back on their feet, helping older people get around, that would be a really rewarding career and way to give back to the community.”
Farr’s desire to help others also connects to her proudest achievement as a soccer player — her selection as team captain this past season. One of the captain’s many responsibilities is helping build team camaraderie and welcoming new players to the team.
“For freshmen it’s not unusual to be nervous when they first get started and I was talking to one who was unsure, and she told me how I helped make her feel welcome,” Farr said. “Being able to show people they can do something means so much to me.”
“Being captain is a real compliment and I don’t take it lightly. I love that people trusted my abilities.”