Sarah Baer intensely prepares for two sports in entirely different ways, but once the battle begins the Perrysburg senior feels right at home.
Baer, a standout forward in basketball, also played the all-important position of goalkeeper for the Yellow Jackets soccer team.
Baer, who has committed to play basketball at Bowling Green State University, is averaging a double-double for the basketball team. The 6-foot-1 post player is averaging 16.7 points and 12.0 rebounds per game for the Yellow Jackets (8-1 overall, 7-0 Northern Lakes League).
Baer also stepped in as goalie for the defending state champion Perrysburg soccer team. She posted 10 shutouts and gave up just 13 goals in 19 games as the Yellow Jackets went 13-3-3.
“It is a lot of pressure and it's about an equal amount of pressure for both,” Baer said. “Before the game I get really nervous. I try to mentally prepare. But it really is completely different how I prepare for basketball, mentally. I try not to think too much.
“But once the game starts, you're just our there doing your thing. It's easy when I'm in the game because I knew what I can do.”
Baer said her approach is to block out the crowd and atmosphere while maintaining an intensity during games.
“What I do affects the whole team for both sports,” Baer said. “I can't afford to have a bad game.”
Perrysburg basketball coach Todd Sims said Baer has a drive that can't be taught.
“Her No. 1 asset is her athleticism,” Sims said. “But she's also the first one to practice and the last to leave. She shoots before practice and after.”
Baer attributed much of her work ethic to former soccer teammate Maddy Williams. Baer said Williams, a highly skilled forward who is now playing at Purdue, was the perfect captain.
“She changed my view on a lot of things,” Baer said. “She made me want to work twice as hard.”
Williams earned All-Ohio first-team honors in soccer after leading Perrysburg to a 23-0-0 record and Division I state title in 2012.
“What I got from her is that if you want something really bad, you have to work 110 percent all the time,” Baer said. “You have to run in the mornings. You have to go out of your way and put in a lot of work.”
Baer took over in net for graduated goalie Chloe Buehler. Baer said the state championship proved that the ultimate goal could be achieved through hard work.
“When we won at state it was amazing,” she said.
Baer said she is still disappointed that her soccer team was knocked out in the district championship by Anthony Wayne.
“I know we could have gone farther,” Baer said. “We had 13 state champs on that team and we all know we could have done it.”
Four of the five starters on the basketball team played soccer.
“So we have that chemistry,” she said.
Baer is among three basketball starters back who led Perrysburg to a 23-2 record and Division I regional semifinal last season. She earned All-Ohio second team. The tenacious rebounder and inside presence averaged 13.4 points and 8.0 rebounds last year.
Sims said Baer has improved offensively after playing all spring and summer, but Sims said it is her speed that separates her from other post players.
“She beats other post players down the court,” he said. “She's a very good rebounder.”
Sims said his three-year starter has also become more vocal this season.
“But she leads mostly by example,” Sims said.
The Yellow Jackets were preseason favorites to repeat as NLL champions. They suffered their first loss last Saturday, a 41-34 setback to Solon when Baer had 13 points and 17 rebounds.
“I think we're playing well as a team,” Baer said. “But we have room for improvement.”
Baer said she opted to play volleyball in the fall of her freshman and sophomore seasons because of her height.
“But I really missed soccer and the coaches,” she said. “I've been pretty good at soccer since I was little. I used to think I wanted to play soccer in college.”
Baer also said it was her dream to play at BGSU. During the recruiting process she also looked at Buffalo and also received interest from some Division II schools. But her parents attended BG and her sister is there now.
“They were the first school to offer and I said, 'Yes, please!’,” she said. “It feels so real now. “I want to become a better overall player. I will work extra hard to get my intensity as high as possible. I'm going to keep pushing as hard as I can.”
Sims said Baer has the potential to be an impact player at BG.
“If she keeps improving like she has here, she has the potential to be an All-MAC player,” Sims said. “She just needs to add strength. I'm sure she will work as hard there as she has worked here.”