Hanna Garber and her family’s lineage on the diamond
Managing Sports Editor
Family gatherings and Christmas dinners are a time for avoiding topics of conversation that may make the meal a bit uncomfortable. For sophomore outfielder Hanna Garber, the lack of politics at the dinner table results in a conversation about a topic all of the Garber’s can agree on: hitting mechanics.
“It was always something that was just normal and a part of our family,” Garber said. “We’re just kind of a softball family.”
Garber and her family have a long line of athletes who played both softball and baseball at the collegiate and professional level.
Her father Todd played at Millersville University, and her two uncles, Jeff and Chris Garber, played for James Madison University, a conference rival of Delaware’s.
The Kansas City Royals drafted her uncle Jeff , where he played in the team’s minor league system and made it to the Royals’ Triple-A affiliate, one step away from the MLB. He also spent time coaching, including stops in Delaware to coach the Wilmington Blue Rocks. He is now the minor league infield coordinator for the Washington Nationals. Her uncle Chris is currently coaching high school baseball.
“When I was like one or two I went to about fifty Blue Rocks games, me and my older sister were the go-to for the diaper derby,” Garber said. “We were always there.”
After her father’s college career at Millersville came to a close, he went on to coach high school baseball for 19 years, before putting down the coaching clipboard to watch Hanna and her two sisters play as well as coach their travel teams.
Garber is the middle child of three, all of whom play softball or will play softball collegiately. Her older sister, Brianna, is entering her fifth year of eligibility at West Chester University and her younger sister, Julianna, will join Hanna at Delaware next year.
During her time in high school, Garber had the ability to play with Brianna her freshman and sophomore year and Julianna during her junior and senior seasons.
Hanna herself started playing travel softball at the age of nine. She also competed in field hockey and basketball through high school. Garber always made it possible to keep softball a priority, attending softball practices even while she was in the middle of field hockey or basketball season.
“I never really thought about playing anything else but softball in college,” Garber said.
As Garber finished middle school and entered high school, the process of recruiting started to become a reality. She attended camps hosted by various universities, including one hosted by the University of Delaware. Heading into her sophomore year of high school, Garber verbally committed to Delaware.
“I was the youngest girl [at the camp] and I was kind of like a joke,” Garber said. “Which is kind of funny that I ended up [at Delaware].”
As Garber entered Delaware, she found the transition to college tough. She was responsible to manage her own time as both a student and a Division I softball player, which at first led her to feel homesick.
Garber, knowing her older sister had gone through the same transition to be a college athlete, found talking to Brianna over the phone as a way to get tips and advice on how to manage everything going on at the time.
With her family living only an hour away from campus, she also found time to get dinner with her family and, if needed, had the ability to come home for the weekend.
Now after a full year of competing and studying, Garber has found her stride both on the field and around campus. She is roommates with Delaware field hockey forward Grace Miller, with whom she played both softball and field hockey in high school.
“She is incredible and has helped me through so much,” Garber said. “It is just a great outlet for anything that went really wrong or really well.”
On the diamond, Garber has continued the legacy that family members before her have paved. In her first two years with the Blue Hens, she has stolen 44 bases, which ranks fourth all-time at Delaware. Through the first 23 games of 2020, Garber led the team in runs scored with 20 and helped the Blue Hens get off to a 19-4 start.
To Garber, the household she grew up in and the support those same family members gave her are what have helped her get to this point.
“We just had such an advantage growing up in a baseball household and having my uncles who know so much about the game and my dad as well of course, we’re just really lucky.” Garber said. “It was just kind of instilled I guess.”