Madison, WI,
16:30 PM

Learn from Jessie Vetter – Olympian, Role Model, Dreamer

This women's hockey star is achieving goals and encouraging others to do the same.


Jessie Vetter was raised in Cottage Grove, Wis., where playing ice hockey is as much a part of childhood as learning to root for the University of Wisconsin Badgers. So, it was only natural that Jessie grew up playing hockey with the guys.

Playing competitively was another matter, because few high schools had girls’ hockey teams. Many had boys’ teams, though, and two of Jessie’s brothers had played for Monona Grove High School. Starting her sophomore year, so did Jessie – as a goaltender.

Accomplishments on the Ice

Jessie's accomplishments as an athlete include:

  • 2014 Olympic Winter Games, silver medalist
  • 2010 Olympic Winter Games, silver medalist
  • International Ice Hockey Federation Women's World Championship Teams – 2008, 2009, 2011 and 2013
  • Three-time NCAA Champion (2006, 2007, 2009)
  • 2009 Patty Kazmaier Award Winner (given to NCAA's best women's hockey player)

“It was definitely an experience,” recalls Jessie, pictured above with her father, Tom. “When I was a freshman, my older brother Joey was a senior and he was awesome. He made sure the guys treated me right, and at the same time he made me compete at every practice and show that I deserved to be on the ice.

“Now, there were guys or coaches from other teams who definitely didn’t appreciate that there was a girl on the ice, so they went up against me a little harder,” she recalls. “But for me, that was motivation to become the best goalie I can be.”

At the University of Wisconsin, Jessie finally found herself playing against other women. It was a less “physical” game, one that required more skill and finesse. Her love of the sport and the support of her family were what remained consistent. At every game, in fact, Jessie could look into the stands and see at least a dozen family members.

“It’s exciting to have that much support,” says Jessie. “If you have people who say, ‘You can do that,’ you use that as motivation to keep working even harder.”

Jessie's Hat Trick for Dreamers

  1. Play the long game. Jessie is just now realizing dreams she first had as a preteen. "When you're looking toward a dream and it seems far away, you've definitely got to take little steps to get there. You can't take one big step. It definitely is a long process."
  2. Find your motivation. Playing with the nation's best female hockey players means Jessie is always on her "A" game. She also finds inspiration in wearing her Team USA uniform. "I still get goose bumps every time I put it on, because I want to feel like I deserve to wear that jersey."
  3. Have fun! Jessie is known for her laid-back style. "If your vision is so set on your end goal, you're going to miss a lot along the way. That is something I've always done: enjoy myself and have fun. It makes the process more worthwhile."

Today, Jessie is fitting comfortably into a relatively new position: role model for young athletes. In 2010, she introduced the Jessie Vetter Award for an outstanding goaltender attending a Wisconsin prep school, and the 2013 edition of her golf tournament (sponsored with American Family Insurance) raised $38,000 for American Family Children’s Hospital.

Check out these related resources:

Why Dreams?

A Warm Spirit of Giving