The first two Garber sisters to play softball at Lampeter-Strasburg were outstanding. So Julianna Garber, the youngest of the three, had a high bar to live up to.
But instead of feeling pressure to follow in the footsteeps of sisters Bri and Hanna, she instead was eager for a chance to prove herself. Being put on the junior varsity team at the start of her freshman 2017 season only served as motivation.
“It was my goal to prove (the coaches) wrong,” said Garber, known to family and teammates as Julz. “In my mind I was mad they didn’t want me on varsity. I was so excited to finally get my opportunity to show what I could do.”
Garber has since been named all-state in two sports while helping the L-S field hockey team capture its first Lancaster-Lebanon League crown last fall before competing in the state tournament, and the softball team win a state title during her sophomore year and finish as PIAA runner-up in her junior year. Off the field, she’s gathered a 3.97 non-weighted grade-point average.
For those efforts, Garber has been selected as the female recipient of the 2020 A. Landis Brackbill Award. Named for the first executive director of the L-L League, the award is given annually to a boy and girl who maintain a 3.5 GPA and letters or plays in 75% of at least two PIAA-sponsored sports in their senior academic year. A committee set up by the Lancaster-Lebanon League chooses winners from nominations made by each of the league’s schools. Manheim Township senior Ben Mann is this year’s male recipient.
“I didn’t want to think I couldn’t win it, but I didn’t have that high hopes,” Garber said of the accolade. “My sister, Hanna, was nominated for it a few years ago but didn’t get it. So if she didn’t get it I didn’t think I had a chance. So when my athletic director (Branden Lippy) called I was like, ‘Wait, really?’ I was excited.”
Garber credits her success to the work ethic instilled in her by her parents, both of whom were also phenomenal student-athletes in their day.
“Both my parents are very hard workers,” Garber said. “My mom woke up every day and ran eight miles as an athlete. My dad grew up like me. He was the youngest of three. Both of his brothers were successful baseball players. He taught me to try your best. I feel uneasy if I walk off the field and feel like I didn’t give a hundred percent that practice.”
And if Garber’s swing didn’t feel right in practice, she’d come home and take cuts in the family’s batting cage that has since been relocated from the basement to the garage.
“My dad will hit with me whenever,” Garber said. “No matter if it’s 9:30 at night or 5:30 before school. He’s never said, ‘No.’”
Garber played the midfield position in field hockey, earning all-league honors as a junior, and all-league and second-team all-state accolades as a senior.
She’s been an outfielder in softball since giving up pitching after her freshman year due to the stress it put on her arm. Her 60 hits as a junior in 2019 is believed to be the single-season program record. Over the last three seasons, she gathered 40 career stolen bases with a .508 career batting average to go along with 133 career hits, 29 of them for extra bases.
Garber was an all-league selection each of the last three seasons and all-state selection each of the last two, and thus had a good shot at earning similar accolades before the COVID-19 pandemic wiped out her senior season.
“Just to have this (Brackbill) award as something to celebrate me as a senior is definitely helpful,” Garber said. “It’s not even about me being a senior and having a Senior Day, it’s about being able to play with my teammates one more time. I never thought my junior year would be my last chance to do that.”
Garber will soon be headed to the University of Delaware on an athletic scholarship, where she’ll study business and play with sister Hanna on the softball team.
“My sisters have always been huge role models to me and pushed me throughout the years,” she said. “I got to play on the high school team with Hanna; she was my No. 1 supporter. She’d be the first one there to help me.”
As the Brackbill winners, Garber and Mann will each receive a $1,000 scholarship from the Manheim Touchdown Club. Additionally, Orthopedic Associates of Lancaster, the L-L’s official sponsor, will give $150 in scholarship to each of the boys and girls Brackbill finalists, including the winners.
In addition to Garber, the other girls finalists for the award were Donegal’s Kiera Baughman, Elizabethtown’s Katie Locker, Northern Lebanon’s Zara Zerman and Warwick’s Meghan Quinn.