Although skiing requires downward treks on hills, Anna Baker is on an uphill climb in her first season with the Tigers.
While also playing soccer for Hand in the fall, Anna has developed passion for the powder, spending the last five years with the sport after a friend invited her up to a ski resort. Aided by her father driving her up for return trips, Anna carried her love into high school to not only improve her skills on the hills, but also help blend in during what can be a difficult initial year for high school students. According to her coach, Anna's admiration for skiing has led to marked improvements each race for both she and the Tigers.
"Anna has helped immensely in making our girls' team competitive as a solid complement to other racers," says Hand Coach Todd Williams. "Throughout the season, she has improved her overall finishing spot in every race. I enjoy seeing her improvement with each race; I can only imagine where she will be as a senior with hard work and an improved racing technique. Anna is a great teammate to a very young girls' race team, which has only a junior with 17 freshmen and sophomores."
For Anna, the adjustment to competing at the high school level has been a smooth transition.
"I ski because I love being outdoors in the snow," says Anna, who scored a 56.91 on Feb. 6 to help Hand finish eighth in a 12-team race. "I was drawn to the team here because I wanted to be a part of more activities and gain coaching to improve my skills."
Anna feels some pressure with Williams's high expectations for her future, but brushes it aside with the rush she gets from being on the team, which is the outlet that sparks the constant rise in her marks.
"I do feel a bit of pressure with early success, but I just remember that we are in this to have fun because it is such a great activity," says Anna, whose brother Pat also competes on the boys' side. "I attribute my performances to my teammates. Everyone encourages and advises the other here. They have all helped me with my results."
Anna admits there were nerves jumping onto varsity halfway through her first year, yet it has turned out to be for the best. She feels this responsibility will help her grow as a future leader in both skiing and soccer.
"At first, I was worried about being on the team as a freshman, but it has been great meeting new people," Anna says. "We learn different types of skills and discuss our individual performances, courses we have done. Being on the varsity squad now will help me prepare for the future as it opens my eyes to the responsibility of leading a team and taking on challenges."
As she keeps a sibling rivalry with her brother, Anna is building the foundation for further recognition, being in Peer Advocate Training, L.I.F.E, and Perspectives at Hand. Anna feels that in this world, if you keep pushing yourself, the only outcome can be positive.
"You can never give up and you must try your hardest," says Anna, who credits her father Bill as a motivator. "There will always be good and bad times, but you will improve once you move forward."