Versatile is an understatement for a young blue-eyed blonde who has stunning-stage presence. Her mom says, "Annabel's schedule is insane!" It doesn't seem to phase the 5'8" high school junior with her upbeat-friendly personality. Oh, and I'd like to mention that she's only sixteen and maintains a 4.0 GPA?
Annabel Guptill was born in Huntington Beach, California. The proud parents are Scott and Celeste. She is the oldest of five sisters and two brothers -- that in itself tells you the busy life she's living. As a little girl, she lived near the beach and her life was moving from place to place.
When Annabel was seven years old, her family moved up to Ontario, Oregon. She has been home schooled all of her life with the exception of a few elective classes at some public schools. At this age she also started taking lessons to play the fiddle and the piano. She has played instruments and sang since she could talk. She found a love for music at an early age.
"I experienced moving around so much when I was young and realized how difficult it was being the new kid at a school. We didn't want that for our kids -- home schooling seemed to be a solution for us. In Ontario there was such a large community of home schoolers, we even had sports teams," her mom said.
Annabel was raised in a calm middle-class neighborhood close to the Oregon-Idaho border. She hung out with a group of friends and she attended church functions regularly. When she was nine years old she'd often watch Bianca Thompson, a runner from the high school. Annabel was always beating her friends in races. One day she finally worked up the courage to ask Bianca if she would race her. Bianca was a good runner and of course Annabel was much younger.
"I think watching Bianca really inspired me to become a runner. When I saw myself beating my friends in the neighborhood, and all my brothers and sisters, well, I'm older so I guess I should beat them -- ha-ha! I think that's when I realized that maybe I could be a good runner," Annabel said.
Annabel loved competing for home-schooled teams like volleyball, basketball, and tennis. Her home school team would always win against many public schools in the area.
"I remember playing tennis with a friend. There were runners going by. I would say, 'those people are so dumb, I will never run -- that isn't even a skill!' During volleyball our coach made us run a mile, and if you didn't run it under eight minutes you couldn't play," Annabel said.
The grades that ran the mile were six through twelve and Annabel would win every time. In basketball she was always the first one down the court. She started finding a passion for running and started realizing that maybe she had found her sport. Although she loved basketball, the shots wouldn't always go in.
Annabel struggled in reading as a young kid, but her mom persevered by helping her read Bible scriptures or anything that might help improve her reading. One day she just blossomed by reading the entire "Laura Ingles Wilder" series.
"I couldn't believe it to tell you the truth. I asked her questions about the books and she answered everyone correctly," Celeste said.
During her eighth grade year, the Guptills moved to the Willamette Valley due to a teaching job offer that her dad received in Silverton, Oregon. Annabel's mom posted a comment on Facebook requesting info on a home for a family of ten. Someone responded and they were able to move into a rental home in Keizer, Oregon.
Home school has been such a blessing to Annabel. Her mom speaks of purchasing tests to take at different levels -- third grade, fifth grade, eighth grade, and tenth grade -- every state has different policies. She has the option of taking electives at the public school, and participating in sports. She is a member of the McNary Cross Country Team and the McNary Track and Field Team.
"I enjoy home school because of the flexibility. I study by my own schedule and I can compete in sports teams at McNary. I'm able to spend time with my friends so I still get the social aspect as well," Annabel said.
Although home schooling has it's pros and cons, Annabel finds more pros. She is improving every day while she works hard to become a great runner. Her training schedule is usually running at least 30 miles a week. Sometimes she'll run six miles worth of intervals for strength. Last year, her best time in the 3K as a sophomore was 11:53. She qualified for the state meet in Eugene, Oregon, but finished in the middle of the pack.
"I got stuck in the middle of the pack right at the beginning and when I finally got past them, there wasn't enough time to gain what I lost," Annabel said.
Annabel doesn't look at running in a way that she's the best, but she looks at running as a challenge for herself to get better every year. She wants to make it to the state meet again this year and place higher than last year. She wants to earn a spot on the McNary 4 x 400 relay team. Her best time in the 400 meters is 61 seconds, she hopes to break 60 seconds in the near future.
While running keeps her active, she has such a passion for music. The God-given talent of playing several instruments, like the violin-fiddle, piano, and saxophone, has given her a whole new leisure of a positive activity that she loves. At sixteen years old she is an instructor and has ten clients, some that are special-needs.
"Being a home schooled student gives me the opportunity to teach music lessons, I've been teaching the last three years. I enjoy teaching and at the same time I've also learned about life skills -- an amazing experience," Annabel said.
Annabel is part of a worship team for her church, and is involved with Orchestra at McNary High School. She has recently become part of the Highway Home Gospel Bluegrass Band. She's a new member so her picture won't be part of that band yet.
"We've never been parents that have pressured our kids, but we do recognize their gifts and encourage them as much as we can," her mom said.
Annabel has a leader-type personality. When someone asks her a question, she'll give her opinion -- she'll tell it like it is. She organizes events for her team and friends and follows through.
Her parents have supported her in so many ways. Her dad is out there timing her and giving her helpful hints on her running form, etc. Her mom is always teaching her about nutrition -- what the body needs to continue training. She's also the stay-at-home mom that puts in the hours for home school. Annabel's grandparents are also supportive. They moved to Keizer to help out the Guptills.
"I'm so thankful for her grandparents, if we need something and I can't be there, they are always willing to help us out," Celeste said.
Annabel is the type of kid that welcomes her little brother, Tyler, when he wants to go hang out with her entire team. She'll have him ride his bike while they run. Most kids these days will not want their little brother tagging along. She has a good heart and loves her family dearly.
This year she qualified for a national competition in the Oregon Old-Time Fiddlers. She placed first at the state competition in the "Twin Fiddler" with Hyrum Kohler, who attends McNary High School. She placed second in the "Solo Fiddler" event. She'll compete at nationals this June 2015.
"She is so nice and amazing ... and especially to all of her siblings, I'm so proud of Annabel," her grandma said.
Annabel will be graduating high school at age sixteen, she's very young. Her dedication to running and music will continue. She would really love to run the 5K in college and is looking at Corban University in Salem, Oregon. Music is more likely as far as scholarship funds, but she plans to keep training and improving as much as she can on running.
"I'm still young and have time to continue working hard even after high school. I would really love to run in college and be committed to music as well," Annabel said.
Annabel's talents are mesmerizing, I can't begin to think how much work this young lady has put in over the years. For a long-term goal, she would love to continue teaching music, and eventually become an accountant. Starting a family some day is included in the list.
When I asked Annabel to play the fiddle for me, I was expecting a young girl that played average. I was blown away! I almost started dancing with an injured knee.
One can only imagine accomplishing so much as a young teenager ... congrats Annabel, you are a wonderful example for many people. Keep doing what you're doing.
1. Annabel, what are your favorite hobbies?
I like playing the fiddle, making music, cooking and decorating cakes, and listening to country music.
2. What are your favorite subjects in school?
I like science, history, and chemistry.
3. Who is your favorite athlete that inspires you?
Eric Liddell, an Olympic athlete and missionary, inspires me.
4. What advice can you give young athletes that are following a dream like yours?
Find your passion and work hard at it. I know I'm not the best at what I do, but I have the desire to improve every day.