Pennridge's Holland Choses Penn

On March 3, 2011, Pennridge senior Annie Holland was recognized at a special news conference for signing a letter of intent to compete in track and field at the University of Pennsylvania. Holland was the two-time state champion in high jump.

Annie Holland – University of Pennsylvania (Track & Field)
Major: Undecided
Final list of colleges: Penn, Air Force Academy, Richmond, Syracuse, Buffalo
Reasons for choosing Penn: “For me, it really came down to Penn and the Air Force. The Air Force was the military, and that’s not really my thing, and Colorado is a little too far (away) for me. When it came down to it, there was really no competition. Penn was my choice.”
What was the progression that led you to competing in track at the collegiate level? “I actually started running track (to stay in shape) for soccer in middle school. My middle school coach suggested I try high jump, so I did, and I was good at it. I continued on from there and got even better at it. In 10th grade, I quit soccer to concentrate on track, and the rest is history.”
Coach Bill Smith says: “As you go through this process, you’re fortunate when you get a chance to coach elite athletes. Annie certainly was one of those elite athletes who could have probably excelled in a number of sports. She was a very good soccer player and chose to specialize in track and field.
“Unfortunately for her, with her foot injury, it inhibited many of the things she could have done in track and field. She still was second in the league in hurdles, and obviously, her specialty is high jump, but it would have been amazing to see how high she would have been able to jump if she hadn’t been injured.
“Just the pressure of winning back-to-back state titles - we have a junior, Tori Gerlach, who won the 3200 who now saw what it took for Annie to battle through the different pressures of being on top. I always say – sometimes it’s easier to climb up to the top of the mountain than it is to stay on the top of the mountain. There was tremendous pressure for Annie the last week of the season, and she was feeling it.
“Annie didn’t have her best day, but as my assistant coach, Chris Sider, who worked with her, would say – you see what a championship type person you are when everything isn’t perfect and you still are able to come out with a victory even with less than your best stuff. Annie was able to do that. She was feeling the pressure, but being tied and coming through in the jump-off, Annie was mentally still able to stay on top of the mountain.
“It’s a great learning process for Tori (Gerlach) to see what Annie went through and how she was able to work through this. If you look at the number of people coming back trying to go back-to-back (and win consecutive state titles), about 75 percent of them were not successful. There’s tremendous pressure. Annie always has had supreme confidence, and I think that was one of the things that set her apart. She always felt she would jump that 6-foot height. Being able to overcome that pressure is huge.
“We coach every one of our kids –whether they’re the weakest person on the team or the best person, but as a coach, it’s a little bit more special when an athlete is at an elite level because they don’t come along every year. Obviously, Annie is the best we’ve ever had in the high jump. We have had 10 gold medalists in school history for the females. Between last year and this year, we had three of those 10. It’s exhilarating for a coach to be able to witness that. That is their time. By the time we get to the state meet, we’ve done what we can. Now it’s the mental part, and it’s up to them. It was exciting.”