Anna Keefer, a St. Michael-Albertville 2017 graduate, has recently accepted quite an honor for her exceptional abilities in track and field when she became STMA’s first athlete to receive Gatorade’s Athlete of the Year award.
“She has really received an extraordinary recognition,” school board member Jeff Lindquist explained in the district’s formal recognition of her award. “It distinguishes Anna as Minnesota’s best female track and field athlete this year.”
Gatorade honors a top male and female high school athlete for each state and the District of Columbia in seven sports each school year. The company’s Player of the Year awards are now in their 32nd year.
Keefer’s award came with a letter that explains she was chosen not only for her outstanding athletic achievements, but for her high standards of academic achievement and exemplary character demonstrated on and off the track.
“I was really surprised and excited I got to receive the Gatorade award,” Keefer said. “It was awesome, and I’m just glad I get to be a part of it.”
Keefer is a sprinter and a jumper who recently won three individual state titles at the AA state championship meet: the 100-meter dash, 200-meter dash and long jump. STMA girls also took home the team championship title in that state meet.
In addition, she set the all-time state record for long jump at last spring’s sectional meet, which has been classified as the 15th longest long jump performance among all prep athletes in 2017.
A Grant for the Stallions
Along with her award, Gatorade also donated a $1,000 grant in her name to a non-profit organization of Keefer’s choice through their “Play it Forward” program. She chose to give the grant to the local Special Olympics team, the STMA Stallions.
“They are a group of great kids, and I know a few of them,” Keefer said. “I thought it would be a great donation. It’s a good way to give something back.”
Keefer said she chose that organization after getting to know track and field team manager Mia Camp, who is also a member of the Stallions’ track and field team.
“She has been our manager for the past couple years, and she does managing for the basketball team and cross country team,” Keefer said. “She’s all over the place, and she’s really been helpful in our sports events.”
The STMA community has an opportunity has a chance to benefit even more from Keefer’s success. The 100 Gatorade Athletes of the Year (male and female) also had the opportunity to enter an essay contest to win more money for their chosen charity. Gatorade will choose 12 winners to receive an additional $10,000 grant.
Keefer’s Track and Field Career Continues into College
Keefer has signed a letter of intent to attend the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill as a member of their track and field team this fall, and she leaves Aug. 14.
“I’m getting nervous, but mostly excited,” Keefer said of her upcoming move to the East coast.
Keefer will jump into training as soon as she arrives for the sport’s indoor season, which begins in December. The outdoor season follows, starting in March.
“Basically it’s almost a year-round deal,” she said.
“This is a smart, talented, well-spoken young lady,” board member Lindquist said. “We are very proud of you.”