Senior Farewells: Abby Blair and Chris Birch

Photo courtesy of Abby Blair

Abby Blair ’17 leaps to hit against Ta this past fall.

Photo courtesy of Chris Birch

Chris Birch ’17 takes a heavy cut and knocks the ball into play.

Abby Blair

When thinking of a tri-varsity athlete, most imagine a super athlete oozing with natural talent. For Connecticut native Abby Blair ’17, she doesn’t exactly fit the mold. Blair’s athletic career at Choate has taken all sorts of twists and turns, but she’s learned her fair share of lessons throughout her time here at Choate.

Brought to Choate because of the combination of Coach Aliya Cox, Blair had humble athletic beginnings. Blair mentions, “For volleyball, I was new to the sport, so I was thirds my freshman year.” In addition to being on Thirds, she was also a swing player between JV and Varsity basketball her first year. But for track, Blair has always been on varsity. A captain of track and field her junior and senior years, she has thrived on the track.

Blair ended her volleyball career at Choate with a NEPSAC Championship, but she wasn’t always winning hardware. As mentioned before, she started on Thirds, but she didn’t let her lack of  experience deter her: “I was JV my sophomore year and then varsity for my last two years.” She recalls how moving up the volleyball ladder taught her an important lesson: “Try as hard as you can not to let yourself down, and know that if you really like the sport, then you will naturally be willing to work hard.” Needless to say, Blair took the advice to heart in all of her sports.

For basketball, Blair obtained a spot on the varsity team by her sophomore year. Ending with a NEPSAC Finalists Trophy, she ended her career just as well as in volleyball. Blair noted how basketball helped her realize the importance of team chemistry. She mentioned, “When people work really well together, sometimes that’s more important than the individual skill of each person on that team. For basketball, we had a lot of individual talent that didn’t quite mesh this year . . . we didn’t quite get there (to the championship). I think we could’ve if we had another year to bond as a group.”

As a two-year captain of the track team, Blair’s learned the importance of recognizing everybody’s differences as a way to unite a team. Blair stated: “It’s been amazing to be part of such a diverse team. That’s helped me learn how to be part of a larger group and work with everyone.”

Overall, Blair said, “It’s been really fun to play three sports that are really different. A common thing between the three of them is respect: How to respect your teammates, how to respect your coaches, and how to respect players on the other team. I think that’s taught me a lot and is a good life lesson in general.”

Moving on to Colgate University, Blair was not recruited for any sports, but hopes to be a “walk on” for the track team. While she says the life of a tri-varsity athlete has been difficult at times, Blair said, “I’m going to miss it so much. Each sport I love for different reasons, mainly for the bonds you make with your teammates and the people you wouldn’t get a chance to know otherwise.”

Blair’s love of athletics has certainly made an impact on the school during her time here. The leadership and dedication she brings to each practice and game will be sorely missed, but not forgotten in the coming years.

 

Chris Birch

Chris Birch ’17: social activist, campus leader, and awarded athlete.  At Choate, he has expanded into many different fields, becoming one of the most well-known and liked people on campus. One of the fields that he has had a lot of success in is athletics. During his time playing on the Boys’ Varsity Soccer team and Varsity Baseball team, Birch has been an encouraging and inspiring presence, both in his roles on the field and in the “bench-mob.”

For anyone playing multiple varsity sports at Choate, athletics will play a major role in their experience.  The time commitment demanded of a varsity athlete, the physical toll on the body, and the numerous friendships born out of competition all contribute to the experience. The same is true for Birch.  He said of how sports have affected his Choate experience, “I have gotten to know a lot of people who I wouldn’t normally have interacted with.  A lot of the guys on either team are people that I don’t cross paths with normally, but I’ve gotten to know really well.” He continued, “Sports have been something to look forward to.  A long class day might get monotonous, but sports always managed to break that.”

When thinking of his favorite memories at Choate, Birch had a lot to pick from.  He recalled his favorite memories, “Anything that Mr. Doug James has said to me during my time.  Also, one time in soccer practice last year when Coach Fuentes nutmegged Coach Molnar (put the ball through his legs).  We just all went berserk.  It was probably one of the funniest moments I have experienced.”

Despite athletic success at Choate, Birch said that his playing career will most likely end at the end of this baseball season.  When asked whether his athletic career will continue into college, Birch said, “It’s unlikely.  I am going to the University of Chicago, but their baseball team is not the best, so there is an outside chance of me doing that.”

While sports were never Birch’s main focus while here at Choate, the memories he will take away when he graduates this spring are irreplaceable, and the experience he had as a Choate Wild Boar will always stand out when looking back on his athletic career here at Choate.

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