Northwest suburbs Female Athlete of the Year: Barrington's Anna Mae King
Anyone who knows of Anna Mae King's success at Barrington High School seems to always attribute it to her outstanding self drive.
Whether it was diving into water, diving for a loose ball or diving into her school books, King seemed to be a smash -- perhaps splash is the better word -- hit.
The theater was always intense, intriguing and worthy of four stars.
Her state runner-up finish in the 2019 IHSA 1-meter diving competition or accurate 3-point shooting that helped her girls basketball team land a spot in the Sweet Sixteen of the 2019-20 IHSA Class 4A state tournament would have served well enough to be the Daily Herald's 2019-20 Female Athlete of the Year for the Northwest suburbs.
But throw in her recognition as one of the top 26 on the IHSA All-academic state team, and you have the complete student-athlete.
"I got to watch her grow as a basketball player and diver over her four years here," said Barrington athletic director Mike Obsuszt. "She is an extremely hard worker, and her improvement in both sports is obviously because she was willing to work hard and willing to be challenged."
King, who will dive for Division I Boston College, loved a challenge.
"She just had the most determination to get what she wanted and she would do whatever she needed to get there," said veteran diving coach Lisa Christiansen. "I would say she is probably one of the hardest, most self-driven athletes I've coached in a very, long time. The biggest thing was just her drive."
Christiansen had a hard time driving King out of the pool.
"I actually had to make her leave practice," she said with a laugh. "There were days I'd say 'You're done. Go home, you need to sleep, you need to do your homework, just go home.' "
Home is where King acquired her desire to achieve.
"You can tell her parents did a great job raising her," Obsuszt said.
"At a young age my parents (Michael and Katie) always pushed me to do my best in school," King said. "And I always tried my hardest in the classroom and with my homework. That's really how I started -- trying to be the best student I could be."
While acing almost all of her classes the last four years, King's score of 34 on the ACT and the IHSA honor are the exclamation points on her academic resume.
A National Honor Society member, King compiled a 4.3 GPA this school year.
King's mother got Anna Mae (named for her grandmother) involved with diving lessons at a young age and she never lost her passion for the sport.
By the time she reached high school, she was of varsity caliber.
She placed tenth in the sectional as a freshman and was sixth as a sophomore, going on to finish 18th in the state meet.
Heading into her junior year, King battled some lower left leg injuries due to the strain of playing sports nearly year-round.
"She started having some trouble with her shins," Christiansen said. "It kept festering and we were kind of getting worried. I wasn't sure how it was going to end up because it kept getting worse. We had to back off a little in practice.
"She had to work through that and she did everything she could. She listened to what we told her and that was the biggest thing. We'd ask her to do something and she wouldn't question it. She understood why we were doing it and what we were doing. She knew there was a method to it. Eventually it all worked out."
As a junior, King was the Mid-Suburban League champion, a sectional champion and took ninth at state.
King repeated her MSL title as a senior along with another sectional title and the second-place finish in the 1-meter to Jane Riehs of Neuqua Valley.
"I think she was sitting in ninth place at the state meet so she had three dives to work her way back up," Christiansen recalled.
"So it's all strategy with the degree of difficulty and I think our strategy worked out quite well. She dove out of her mind.
"I think she likes the pressure. She left me some gray hairs and stomach knots. I'm like quit stressing me out."
King showed no stress moving on to the basketball season each year. She was an all-conference guard as a junior.
"Anna Mae possesses a tremendous inner drive," said Barrington hall of fame coach girls basketball coach Babbi Barreiro. "She does not get lucky. She does not cut corners. Instead, she demands the best from herself, and this in turn creates success not only for herself but for others around her.
"She is serious but she has a good perspective on things in her life. She prioritizes well which I think makes her so capable. She is inclusive with other kids. All the things you want in a human is Anna Mae King."