Staying Patient and Putting in the Work: Annie Blair
Annie Blair entered her sophomore year at Langley High School with strong ambitions.
A native of McLean, Va., she was ready to take the next step in her soccer development and begin showcasing her talents for collegiate coaches across the nation.
However, just a couple games into the season, Blair’s dreams were put on hold when she tore her anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) during a crucial recruiting period. Forced to spend the 2017-18 season rehabbing, Blair watched as her peers began to take the next steps toward reaching their goals of earning collegiate scholarships.
“It was pretty tough on me from a psychological standpoint because I had just started the process my freshman year and I had just begun the process of communicating with several coaches,” Blair said. “It was really just tough to sit by and watch everyone else start figuring out what they were going to be doing and not knowing what my future would hold.
“I was starting to get down on myself and was saying, ‘Why does this stuff always happen to me?’ But my mom kept telling me, ‘Everything happens for a reason.’ And every day I started to feel a little bit better and get a little bit stronger,” Blair continued. “And then [assistant coach] Jeremy [Williams] from Miami started to show interest.”
In the spring of 2019, over a year since initially suffering the injury, Blair competed in a showcase that she knew could play a major role in her recruitment status. Playing for a new team, PDA, and “a little nervous,” she put on a strong performance that caught Williams’ eyes.
“She was out for some time with an ACL injury and after she recovered I saw her at the end of her junior year at a showcase. I always thought she was very good technically and had a tremendous work rate,” Williams said. “I think we have seen exactly that through these first couple weeks of training. She has been very good at maintaining possession in tight spaces and has been picking up the defensive concepts we teach pretty quickly.”
For Blair, the opportunity to compete for an ACC program and the Miami coaching staff proved to her that the countless hours she committed to make a full recovery had merit.
“When I was recruited by Miami, I realized my mom was right and everyone has their time,” Blair said. “Because I was late to the game, I didn’t think I would have the opportunity to play soccer for a college that I wanted to attend, both from an academic and athletic standpoint. But once Miami reached out, I just realized that everything truly does happen for a reason and you just have to be patient, keep working hard and good things will come.”
Growing up right outside of the Washington, D.C. area, Blair was the youngest and only daughter of three. Despite being hard on their little sister at times, Blair believes her siblings helped develop her into the young woman she is today.
“They were always tough on me and were always horsing around with me when I was younger, but honestly it helped make me a lot stronger now,” Blair said. “At the time I hated it. They would always make me cry, but I wouldn’t want to change anything that happened in the past. I have so many fun memories with them and we all still have a very tight bond.
“My mom and dad have always just challenged me to be the person I am today and to keep working hard and making sure that everything you do, you do with integrity. They were hard on me at times, but they were also very understanding,” Blair continued. “If something didn’t go my way, they would help me through the process. Especially with my ACL, they were always there for me. I am just thankful that they have always been by my side.”
Raised by a very athletic family, soccer was never at the forefront prior to Blair focusing in on it.
A big football and golf family, Blair was a multi-sport athlete as she played lacrosse, basketball, golf, tennis and soccer growing up. However, it was always soccer that stood out to her.
“Soccer just stuck with me the most because when I am out on the field I just really get into the mindset, which I didn’t with some of the other sports,” Blair said. “It just made me so relaxed, it took away my stress and I just love the way it makes me feel. Even though the other sports were also fun to play, I have always just stuck with soccer.”
Now almost a month into her first year at Miami, Blair is looking forward to jumpstarting her collegiate career and has loved her short period of time with her new teammates.
“I am definitely starting to get into a routine and everyone else has definitely been very helpful in showing me what to do, which has been awesome. I feel very welcome here,” Blair said. “I chose Miami because I really loved the team dynamic and the coaching staff. I knew for college, I wanted to go to a very different place, just to broaden my horizons, so I just knew Miami was the perfect place because it is just so different here compared to where I live and even just the U.S. in general. It is almost like a foreign country, like when you talk to people, a lot of people’s first language is Spanish, so I just think it is interesting to meet different types of people.”
A 5-foot-8 midfielder, Blair is ready to learn under third-year head coach Sarah Barnes and her staff, as well as the team.
“I would say my strengths are that I really like defending, as well as my ability to play off the ball. I think I do a good job of really seeing the game in a big picture-esque way,” Blair said. “I am really hoping to really improve my technical skills this year and continue to learn how to play with this team. I know there will be a learning curve, since I have never played with these girls before. So, just knowing how everyone else plays is going to probably be my biggest challenge this year.”
Raised by business-oriented parents–Blair’s mother works on the government side, while her father is in the private sector–she is looking to follow in their footsteps and plans to major in economics with a minor in entrepreneurship.
With classes officially underway, Blair is excited to kick start the 2020 fall soccer season sporting orange and green.