When an individual shows off excellent leadership qualities, a positive attitude, and a willingness to work, the direction, or path, of that individual will always work out for the best at the end of the day.
Throughout her four-year career — and especially as a three-sport athlete in the volleyball, basketball, and track realms — Northwest’s Abby Baer has displayed the cheery personality that makes her a joy to be around.
She’s also used that same personality to influence her fellow teammates to stick to the blueprint that her coaches have implemented — a quality that led the Northwest girls basketball team to great improvements as the second half of the 2017-18 season played out.
At the end of the day, those qualities — whether they result in an opportunity to play collegiate athletics or not — will always allow a person to reach their full potential. However, Baer has not only received one opportunity to play a collegiate sport, she’s received two — from the same school.
Not surprisingly, Baer, being the competitor that she is, wasted no time jumping all over those opportunities. The student-athlete officially accepted opportunities to play for the Ohio Christian University volleyball and women’s basketball programs beginning with the 2018-19 academic year on forward.
For Baer, the opportunity is one that the senior is ready to embrace at a university that she already holds near and dear to her heart due to her Christian faith.
“It is amazing,” Baer said. “I honestly had no intentions of furthering my athletic career onto the collegiate level. I was honestly planning on furthering my education at Shawnee State, but God kept providing me opportunities to play at Ohio Christian, and I’m really excited to get to play the sports that I love.”
However, Northwest athletic director and girls basketball coach Dave Frantz, along with Ohio Christian volleyball hand Danielle Heffernan, know that the bright and talented student-athlete is well-deserving of the opportunities that have been presented before her.
“I’m very proud of Abby,” Frantz said. “She’s such a great kid and just comes from a great family. Abby works hard, and I’m glad to see that hard work paying off. Parents have supported her. You can tell. This year, Abby has matured so much and turned into such a great leader, and I feel like this opportunity will only help her grow as she transitions into her college career.”
“We were really excited,” Heffernan said when Baer decided that she’d be coming to Ohio Christian. “Abby came for a visit during her first semester here, and we were really talking to her and trying to get here. She loved the volleyball program and the basketball program, so she’ll get to be a dual-sport athlete here, which is something that we pride ourselves on at Ohio Christian. It’s a lot of fun having dual-sport kids who love playing both sports and have a passion for them. God worked it out, and He is making a way for her to be at Ohio Christian, so we’re really excited to have her.”
Over her four-year career, Baer has proven herself as an all-around asset from the jump of her high school career, as proven simply by her work on the fields of play. On the volleyball court, Baer obtained Second-Team All-SOC honors as a junior and one-upped those honors to First-Team All-SOC accolades as a senior for the Lady Mohawks.
However, volleyball wasn’t the only type of court that Baer excelled on.
This past winter, Baer, along with fellow senior Magen McClurg, took on key leadership roles for Frantz’s girls basketball program as the Lady Mohawks, who started the 2017-18 season with an 0-10 mark, won six of their last 11 games to end the season — including a huge 42-38 victory over Oak Hill, a game where Baer nailed the game-winning free throws with 13 seconds left — to end the campaign on a high note for a unit that was predominantly made up of freshmen and sophomores.
To make that improvement even more special than it already was, Baer and McClurg took on, and even embraced, complimentary roles to make that improvement happen, with the duo contributing to the late-season development of freshmen Valerie Eury and Haidyn Wamsley, along with sophomore Keirah Potts.
“And in the games that we did lose, the margins were so much closer than they were to start the year,” Frantz said. “I attribute that to how hard the girls worked and the responsibility that Abby and Magen took on as leaders of our team. They could’ve fallen apart in the losses that we had, but as the younger girls went through the growing pains, Abby and Magen were there to lead the way. They allowed us to hold on and hold on until the transition phase to the varsity level was completed for our freshmen and first-year varsity players, and that really helped us tremendously.”
“It took a lot of dedication and hard work,” Baer said. “At first, building that relationship with the younger girls was hard, but as soon as we got that down, and we all realized that we needed to work as a team in order to get to where we want to go, we started to realize our own potential. We showed teams that we were there to play, and that we weren’t going to get stomped on anymore.”
While most would consider resting after a grueling senior season’s worth of scheduling, Baer has done the exact opposite. On the track, Baer, who competes in the discus and shot put realms for the Lady Mohawks, has already collected an official throw of over 100 feet for a personal best. The senior added a 95 feet, eight and three-quarters inch throw just four days ago to claim an individual victory over her competition, as well.
Baer, however, is also a true student-athlete of the highest form. A member of the prestigious Top20 club at Northwest, Baer has already won the Austin Blevins and DDFaith Memorial Scholarships as part of her academic work within the Northwest Local School system.
So when you add all of those accomplishments together, it’s really not a surprise to see what Abby Baer’s accomplished during her time as a Northwest Mohawk.
“Abby’s personality and passion really stands out,” Heffernan said. “It’s just the overall characteristics that she exudes in day-to-day life. We all focus on athletics while we’re playing, but at OCU, we’re focused on continuing the education of the student-athlete and setting them up for a great career when they graduate, and sports is a way in which they can learn those life lessons. She’s a great girl of integrity, loves the sports that she plays, loves God, and just has a really good atmosphere and attitude about her as far as fitting in on both teams. She’s going to be an asset to both programs.”
“You don’t have to worry about her being there, because she’s going to be there,” Frantz said of Baer’s accountability and attention to detail. “You don’t have to worry about her being selfish, because she’s a team player. You don’t have to worry about anything with her. She’s there for the team. When she comes out of games, she’s still up on the bench, cheering her team on. I’m going to miss the leadership that she brought to the table. She was great to have on the court. You knew that she was going to take care of the other girls.”
At Ohio Christian, Baer will also have a comfort level established there. Minford’s Elijah Craft, who obtained an opportunity to play for the Ohio Christian boys basketball program back in February, is a good friend of Baer’s, as is Northwest’s Hunter Berry, who will sign with Ohio Christian on May 3 to play for the Trailblazers’ soccer program.
“I’m really excited,” Baer said. “Elijah’s one of my best friends, so having him going up there with me is awesome. Then, Hunter Berry (Northwest three-sport athlete in soccer, basketball, and baseball) is going up there soon, and that’s another one of my close friends, so I’m really excited that he gets to go up there, too.”
And even though both sports can be taxing, it certainly helps that Heffernan believes in Baer’s ability to perform in both successfully. In fact, Heffernan — who supports her athletes playing multiple sports in college — has at least one returning letterman that is a dual-sport athlete in current sophomore player Kiara Rohrer, who hails from Hilliard.
“I have a couple of dual-sport athletes already on the roster, and they both play basketball,” Heffernan said. “It’s a lot of fun watching them transition from a volleyball team to a basketball team, and do well in both sports.”
“As soon as you walk on the campus (at Ohio Christian), you just feel at home,” Baer said of the positive atmosphere. “I just felt really safe there. I knew that I had to be there. The teams are so welcoming. I was even able to go to go to open gyms and practice with the volleyball team, so that was awesome to meet the girls that I am going to be playing with. They’re so nice.”
However, Baer’s positive and likeable personality makes the senior an easy one to get along with — and it’s that positive personality that will carry Baer on through her days as a Trailblazer.
“Strengthening my relationship with God is definitely a goal,” Baer said. “I’m very excited to go on some mission trips, and am looking forward to the different opportunities that will be there to work in the mission field. I’m excited to meet individuals from varying backgrounds, as well. There will be individuals from across the state and country there at Ohio Christian, so I’m thrilled to meet and get to know each of them.”
“It’s really exciting when you find a person of that caliber that comes in and is just led to OCU by God,” Heffernan said. “I had known about Abby, but she wasn’t somebody that I had found. She just happened to know about OCU through different people, which was really neat. We created a relationship, and continued that relationship into her eventually signing with us. It’s something rare when you have a two-sport athlete, so we’re really excited and blessed to have her be a part of our athletic department.”
“Abby’s going to be successful in whatever she does in life, because she puts her heart into it,” Frantz said. “Brian and Heather are great parents, and Abby takes all of the support that they have given her and just goes with that. I believe that whatever she sets her mind to, she can do. There is no doubt in my mind.”
And even though her days as a Northwest Mohawk are coming to a close, Baer knows that those closest to her, and the experiences that she has had at Northwest, will never be too far away.
“I’m really thankful that they are really supportive,” Baer said. “I know that they hate that I have to leave, and I hate that I have to leave, too, but it’s a good thing that I am still close to home and that they can come and watch me play. They’ve been so supportive through my decision with anything that I have done.”
Reach Kevin Colley at (740) 353-3101 ext. 1930 OR on Twitter @KColleyPDT