by Angela Garvin
Photography by Justin Eiler
When you look up the word “grit” in the dictionary, the definition perfectly describes Fergus Falls’ multi-sport standout Anna Norgard: Courage and resolve; strength of character; spirit. These are terms that tell the story of Norgard’s career as an Otter.
Anna, a Fergus Falls native, began her athletic career in childhood participating in various activities with friends like most athletes do. Before settling on volleyball, basketball and track and field, she tried figure skating, taekwondo, swimming and golf. Anna also participated in summer camps for both basketball and volleyball, which have been her main sports most of her life.
At the beginning of each school year, she steps into the libero position on the volleyball team, earning her the nickname “Nacho.” She was recently the recipient of the Best Passer award and also led the Central Lakes Conference in digs and was second in serve receive.
During the winter season, basketball is her sport of choice, playing the position of guard. And then there is her spring sport, track and field, which is the newest addition to her athletic repertoire, beginning last year. She runs relays as a fill-in on occasion, such as the 4×100 meter relay, but her main focus is discus and shotput. During the offseason, Anna spends many mornings going to the gym with her teammates and participates in various athletic camps that are held in the area, such as Fargo and the Twin Cities.
As we all know, learning how to be a great leader often starts with studying those who have led us, and Anna has had no shortage of inspiring leadership throughout her athletic career. Many of her coaches have been her teachers as well and have inspired her both on and off the court. “They are not only good coaches, they are honestly really great people. They show you how to be a good person, as well as a good athlete. It is something that is important to them and it shows.”
According to her volleyball coach, Renee Erickson, Anna has put into practice what she has learned. “She is an exceptional role model in the classroom and community as well,” Erickson said. “She leads by working hard, no matter what the task. And, she always puts her team first. Anna inspires others, by being inspirational. People like to be around her. She’s contagious, in an uplifting and positive way. She inspires me.”
Being a team captain for her volleyball and basketball team during her junior and senior year of high school, Anna has truly grasped how important it is for her to lead her team. “Being a positive role model, on and off the court is probably the most important thing,” she said. “Inspiring her team, holding them accountable and firing them up are what she focuses on as a leader. And in return, they do the same for her.”
“Anna is a tremendous leader around our high school, both in the classroom/hallway and on the court,” said her basketball coach, Brad Strand. “She is a young lady with integrity and places a high value on her character. She is very positive with a great attitude. I have no doubts that Anna will be extremely successful in the future.”
One of the activities Anna has invested a great deal of time into is her training, which includes working with her weight lifting coach, Paul Ratz. “He pushes everybody,” she said. “He writes workouts and sets goals for each kid. He is so inspirational and has been a huge part of my athletic career.”
According to Ratz, Anna is one of his top five, all-time girl lifters. “She is a warrior in the weight room with max records of 175 in the bench press, 285 in the squat, and 175 in the power clean,” said Ratz. “Her work ethic is matched by few. She is very determined to be the best she can be. Anna is a great role model for all the younger girls. She gives 110 percent on and off the court.”
Along with her weight lifting coach, she also has been inspired by her grandfather. “He worked so hard every day to get what he wanted, through the good times and the bad times. He had grit. I want to be like that.”
It is no surprise with a work ethic like she has, that she has been honored with several awards throughout her high school career. In addition to the award previously mentioned, she was also a Central Lakes All-Conference selection in volleyball and MVP of the Fergus Falls volleyball team. In basketball, she was a Triple “A” award winner for Section 8AA and received the Most Inspirational Player Award
When it comes to her high school education, Anna especially enjoys calculus class, as well as economics. She is involved with the a capella choir and visual arts, which includes drawing and painting. She recently entered a painting into the Blondeau Arts Festival at school. She has also taken nine college-level classes in high school and rounds out her never-ending stream of activities with knowledge bowl, math league, and the National Honor Society.
Anna is not just involved in activities connected to the high school, she is also involved in the community. She has been teaching Sunday School to first graders for the past two years at Bethel Lutheran Church in Fergus Falls. She has also been a volunteer basketball coach for little kids for about four years at the local YMCA.
For the past few years, Anna has had the privilege of praying with her team just before each varsity game. She appreciates being able to bring the team together and help focus their energy on what really matters.
“We’re all in the same boat. We’re all people. We’re all loved by God,” she says. “It is a blessing we are able to do this; that we have the opportunities we do.” She concludes, “Some people say they did it on their own. I did it with the help of the man upstairs.”
In the fall of 2017, Anna will be heading to the Twin Cities to attend U of M with the goal of going into pediatrics. She is unsure of what area of work she will focus on, possibly nursing or psychology, but she plans to work with children. Although she is not planning on playing basketball or volleyball at the college level, she does plan to continue playing the sports in intramural leagues and possibly getting into CrossFit as well.
After graduation, along with some of her classmates, she will be spending a couple weeks in Europe, visiting historical sites in Germany, France and England to name a few.
If anyone has strength of character, has grit, it is Anna. “Sports have taught me the importance of leadership and how it’s not a one person kind of thing,” she said. “Being a leader you have to have the ability to influence everyone around you and make everybody else believe in themselves. Because if you believe in yourself and everybody else believes in themselves, then you are really going to accomplish something.”