Tenacity. Focus. Commitment. Hard work. Competitiveness. Determination. All are attributes of most outstanding athletes. These traits, combined with a positive mental attitude, form a tough combination that proves hard to beat. Gettysburg High School junior Anne Bair embodies all of these characteristics, but she seems to rely on one more above all the others – team work.
“What drives me the most is the team atmosphere and the competitiveness and what we are striving for as a team,” Bair says. “I want to do everything I can to make us as successful as we can be as a team.”
And few athletes have been as successful as Anne Bair and the high school teams she has been a part of.
As a freshman, Bair was the number one runner on the cross country team that placed third in the YAIAA championships, the highest YAIAA place any Warrior cross country team has ever finished. That team, that also featured 800 school record holder Kelty Oaster and current senior standout Marrin Crist, placed fourth at districts, nearly qualifying for the state championships. At the front of the pack was Bair, who qualified for cross country states as an individual.
A star on the basketball court, Bair’s achievements in her specialty sport have earned her a scholarship to play hoops at Manhattan College in the Bronx, NY, starting in 2022. Meanwhile, the 1,000 point scorer as a junior would like nothing more than repeat the performance of her team in 2019, when the Warriors finished the regular season 20-2, and were 28-3 as District III 5-A champions before Covid ended their potential state title run. It was the second year in a row that the team qualified for states, and it is one of the highlights of her young career.
“I think my favorite accomplishment is our team winning the district final in basketball in my sophomore year,” she says. “That was such a special team with really special people. I would have loved to have seen how far that team could have gone in the state tournament. All of us were back and we said, ‘what can we do next year?’ It would be great to be district champs again. Four district tournaments in four years would be exciting.”
Despite losing two players, senior starting guard Karli Bortner and senior sparkplug Carly Eckhart, the Warriors are already thinking about next season in basketball, following a 19-3 campaign this year, and will be favored to make the district tourney once again.
All of which brings us to the current sports season, where Bair has made her mark in track and field as well, but not in the event that one might expect. While she has run 2:21.2 for the 800 meters, three seconds off Oaster’s school mark and best in the area, she also is the fastest 400 meter runner in the Times area with a 1:01.4 to her credit. Her 400 meter prowess is but one part of the Warriors’ superior 4 x 400 meter relay team. Bair shares the stage with three newcomers to the relay, and they have made their mark, not only on the Gettysburg record board, but in the district rankings. This past Saturday at the district championships at Shippensburg University, the squad of Alison Harvey, Bair, Megan Hurst, and Alivia Colgan ran 4:04.96, which placed them sixth, just one place (a half second) from qualifying for states, and setting a new Gettysburg school record.
“I have to say that it is so much not all about me,” Bair says. “It’s a team thing. You can’t accomplish anything without your team, and that is just as true in track as it is in basketball. That race that Megan (Hurst) ran on Saturday was why we did so well. She was amazing. We are all already thinking about next year.”
But Bair will have to think about this week first. She will be going to states in the triple jump, which is something that was definitely not in the script. When Karli Bortner strained her surgically-repaired knee as the team’s top triple jumper, and the Warriors needing every point they could get against a tough Dover team, Bair was asked by her coach if she thought she could score a point in the triple. Since her coach is also her dad, it was hard to say no.
She scored more than a point, as she won the event easily with an impressive leap of 34-feet-6 inches, qualifying for districts. On Friday at the district meet, she soared a remarkable 37’4 ¾” to place fifth and qualify for states. She goes into the state meet at the number ten seed. And it is the third sport in which Bair has qualified for states.
“I think multiple sports help you with your main sport,” Bair says. “I am so passionate about sports and I am so competitive, and I think the other sports keep you that way.”
What makes an athlete get so interested in a wide variety of sports? What makes her so driven? With Bair, it can so obviously be traced to her family. Bair’s mother Sarah, a product of Littlestown H.S., was a conference champion in the 400 meters at Albright College. And not only has her dad Jeff coached basketball and track at the college level, most notable at Mt. St. Mary’s, he is Anne’s coach for both basketball and track and field.
“It’s really fun having dad as coach,” says the talented daughter. “We are always talking about whatever’s going on in the sport we are in. Dad has so much experience about workouts and what I need to do to be successful. He is always trying to help me, and all of us, on both teams, be the best we can be. He always just wants us to get better.”
But her influence is certainly not just from her parents. Bair’s siblings have had just as much, if not more, influence on her choice of, and commitment to, sports. Brother Sean played soccer, basketball, and ran cross country when in high school, and was the head boys’ basketball coach at New Oxford High School for a number of years, with great success. After being graduate assistant for the Arkansas men’s basketball program, he is now Director of Video and Analytics for the women’s program at Penn State. Sister Ellen played basketball and volleyball at Gettysburg, and is now the head girls’ coach at state AA power Linden Hall. Growing up so surrounded by sports, it was hard not to jump right in.
Bair does not excel just in sports. She is on the high Honor Roll at Gettysburg, and belongs to many clubs that are not athletically related. Most of those organizations are focused on helping people achieve something who might not otherwise experience success. It is consistent with who she is as an athlete and person.
“I’ve always tried to really live my high school experience and tried to get the most out of it I could,” Bair says. “High school is such a fun time and really special. My goal, I think, is to stay driven and focused on my different goals and to stay involved in as much as I can. I am involved in a lot of things at school besides sports, and I just hope I can stay passionate about the things in am doing.”
As Bair continues her athletic career, she will continue to have respect for her teammates, as well as for those who have served as her role models. First and foremost, she is quick to say how much she looks up to her teammates. When she sees the effort and commitment that they put in to be successful, it motivates her to do better.
She also has great admiration for professional players, particularly their work ethic and constant devotion to making the most of their talents.
“I look up to a lot of basketball players who are always in the gym,” Bair says. “I have so much respect for those who work hard and are always doing what they can to perfect their craft. Sabrina Ionescu in the WNBA, who played at Oregon, is one of the elite passers. And Courtney Vandersloot, who had 21 assists in one game. I love dealing assists, and helping teammates score. And of course Lebron, and Damian Lillard, who scored 61 points in one game.”
It is easy to see that Bair is on an upward trajectory. Not only is she talented, as many athletes are, she is dedicated and committed to not only getting better herself, but having an influence on making others better for the benefit of the team. For her, it is all about having fun and success with her teammates. Whether it is the elite Warrior basketball team or the record-setting 4 x 400 relay, her team is her family, and her family is her team.
“There is a quote that I really like by Maya Angelou,” says Bair. ‘When you learn, teach, when you get, give.’ I try to kind of live my life by those words.”
With that kind of thinking, success will be her constant companion.