Following in her athletic family’s footsteps, Aspen Honey Bair, a hardworking, well-rounded senior at Dixie High School excels not only academically but in her chosen sports: basketball, volleyball, and track and field.
The third child of Mike and Lori Bair, Aspen’s infectious energy and independent spirit were evident from the time she was a toddler. Her parents had to install special locks on the front and back doors to keep her from sneaking out to visit the neighbors wearing only her yellow boots. She hated the training wheels on her bike and once those were taken off, she jumped on and sped away without hesitation. “Aspen was the child who was always going somewhere. She has no fear, that’s for sure,” Lori Bair says. “She is also my sensitive child who loves everyone and wants everyone to be happy and get along.”
Aspen has an older sister, Brianna Teddie Bair; an older brother, Dakota Black Bair; and a younger sister, Cara Cinnamon Bair. All of the siblings played multiple sports from an early age and through high school.
“Mama” and “Papa” Bair met at Brigham Young University and moved to St. George in 1992 so Mike could take a job at Dixie High. He eventually became the athletic director and vice principal. “Our family is definitely a sports family, but also a family of faith and fun,” says Lori Bair. “We love hanging out together, playing games, laughing, and traveling to different places. We are a loud, fun, and proud Dixie family!”
Volleyball is Aspen’s favorite out of her three sports. “Volleyball is the most fun and the games are exciting,” she says. “The feeling of hitting the ball and getting a good pass is awesome, and my teammates and coaches are really great.”
On a typical school day, the 17-year-old has time for little else but studying, eating, homework, and team practice. She attends workouts and camps during the offseason and hits the gym frequently with her brother, whom she views as a mentor along with her parents.
Aspen has battled some serious ankle injuries over the course of her high school career, which she says only fueled her desire to get back on the court. “Sports have taught me that when you feel like you want to give up, you have to keep going,” she says. “If I’m struggling in life, I realize I have to keep pushing myself.”
Her favorite saying is “Hard work beats talent when talent doesn’t work hard,” a quote that NBA star Kevin Durant has also cited as being hugely inspirational.
Mike Bair says that he is continually impressed by his daughter’s work ethic and dedication to her sports. “She doesn’t complain at all. When she gets an injury, she just wants to keep playing and fight through it,” he says. “There’s probably added undue pressure on my kids because I’m watching them 24/7, which I kind of feel bad about sometimes. I feel like they have to live up to a little bit of a higher standard.”
Players must meet an academic benchmark to participate in the basketball program at Dixie. The team holds a study hour after school, where Aspen gets help with her homework. Her grade point average is 3.8. “Sports have helped me focus better in the classroom, and I’m more disciplined with my education,” she says.
Aspen hopes to earn a scholarship for either basketball or track; though volleyball is her favorite sport, she believes that her 5’8” size will keep her out of college contention. She has her eye on Utah Valley University and Southern Utah University but isn’t sure what she wants to study yet. She also plans to serve an LDS mission.
As a junior, Aspen served as captain of the basketball team and was named MVP. She also received a “player of the game” honor for her performance in one of the more exciting match-ups of the season. “We were playing Desert Hills, which is a really hard team to beat, and I just kept making all my threes and doing really good with my passing and rebounding,” she recalls. “I scored like 26 points that game, my highest. We lost, but our coach was still proud of us.”
“In volleyball this year, I’ve been doing really good [in the] front row—very consistent with my hits, getting a lot of kills,” she says. “I had the game-winning kill in one of our games this year, and it just felt really good to be able to do that for my team.”
“She’s definitely a team player,” says Lexie Paxton, Aspen’s friend since eighth grade. “She puts the hard work into every practice and every game, and she’s really positive.” Aspen is also funny, Paxton says, and very caring.
Aspen has played varsity volleyball since she was a freshman, and a sophomore in basketball. Her experience will be an asset going into the hoops season this winter, since she is one of few returning players. “We expect her to be a team leader on and off the floor,” Araiza says. “We have a very young group joining us and they are going to need some seniors to show them the ropes.”
The team has lunch together on game days, and each of the players always join hands in prayer before taking the court.
Araiza’s objective for the Dixie girls is to make it to the playoffs. Having worked with Aspen for three years, she says that her star player will need to put up some good numbers in order to gain the attention of colleges. “Aspen has worked hard in the offseason to make her senior year successful. She knows that a lot of time outside of practice has to be put in as well, and she is willing to do that,” says Araiza. “We are excited to see the payoffs of her work.”
Whether the season ends in a scholarship or not, Aspen’s goal is to play to the best of her ability and leave her mark. She hopes that her teammates will remember her as being happy and enthusiastic on and off the court, and for always getting the job done. “I want to be the one that doesn’t give up even when things get hard, in practice or in games,” she says. “I just want to make my family and coaches proud of me.” • HSSI