Anne Backus Hutson (Marshall, 1986) yearbook photo

Anne Backus HutsonAnne Backus Hutson

Anne Backus Hutson (Marshall, 1986) yearbook photo

March 2024 ~

When Anne Backus Hutson (Marshall, 1986) rewinds her memories of high school and college, it reminds her how grateful she is for all the people who contributed to her achievements along the way.

That long list includes her parents, her two sisters, the cousins and neighbors who dared welcome a girl into their boys’ games, her coaches and teammates, the classmates who voted her onto the Rose Festival Court and into the role of senior class president. And last, but not least – in fact, maybe tied with her parents for first – Santa Claus.

“I was a bit of an odd girl in that, when I was 3, I asked for a basketball hoop for Christmas,” Anne says with a laugh.

Well, Santa came through. And 42 years later, Hutson’s basketball skills as a youth help get her inducted into the PIL Hall of Fame. Coincidence? Or is Old St. Nick not getting enough credit for his scouting skills?

Never mind that, Christmas hoop or no Christmas hoop, Hutson was going to find a way to play sports, especially basketball, the game she became “obsessed with” at that early age.  She grew up (and is now back living) in Mt. Tabor, where the popular neighborhood park was her second home.

“It was always like my own backyard,” she says. “When I was a kid, I’d leave the house at around 10 in the morning and play there all day. Maybe I’d come back home for lunch, but maybe not.”

Whatever and whenever she was playing, Hutson was playing with boys. “It was just a coincidence that all my neighbors and cousins were about the same age. So, if I was playing, I was playing with boys. In those days, there weren’t as many girls playing sports, so the boys trained me up. It ended up being really good for my athletic career.”

Before high school, Anne wasn’t able to play organized basketball until sixth grade, and she was playing boys baseball until seventh grade, when she was finally able to switch to girls softball.

“We had a good family friend who had three boys, and he would see me playing baseball with them at the park until it got so dark you couldn’t see the ball anymore,” she remembers. “He would say to people, ‘Are you sure you won’t let me draft Anne onto my (Little League) team’?”

Those early years being “one of the guys,” as Anne puts it, made the transition to all-girls competition a relative breeze. It has also served her well socially in the years since.

“To this day, I’m as comfortable hanging around guys as I am women; they can’t say anything that shocks me,” she jokes.

Given her skillset, Anne would have enjoyed athletic success no matter when she attended Marshall. Still, the timing of her entry into high school helped ensure she could start playing at a high level early in her career.

“Part of Marshall’s appeal was they had just won back-to-back titles in girls basketball, but they’d also lost a lot of players to graduation,” she says. “So, I was one of only a few players in my class that played varsity four years.”

In addition to earning four letters on the court, Anne was named team captain and All-PIL as a junior and senior. She played in the State-Metro All-Star Game her final year.

Anne also played two years of soccer at the urging of her basketball coach, who suggested it was a good way to get in shape for basketball season. But with most of her friends playing volleyball, and Marshall traditionally stronger in that sport, she switched fall sports after her sophomore year. She earned two letters in volleyball and played on the state champion runner-up team as a junior.

In the spring, Anne excelled on the diamond, playing third base, earning letters All-PIL recognition all four years and being named team captain.

Through her years at Marshall, later in college, and in her personal life, Anne says she has always found herself in a leadership role.

“At Marshall, there were so few upper classmen on our teams that I’d feel like, Well, if you aren’t the leader, I don’t know who is,” she says. “I was somewhat familiar with that role because I was always looking out for my two younger sisters. But playing team sports I was always concerned with where everyone was supposed to be and when they were supposed to be there. Both the high school and college teams I played on had enjoyed success before I got there, and I didn’t want to be the one dropping the ball. I was like, Not on my watch!”

Her selection as senior class president, Multnomah Club Scholar-Athlete and Rose Festival Princess are testament to the fact that Anne’s leadership traits extended beyond sports. Even if, she says, trying out for Marshall’s Rose Festival Court was a brand of competition that was far different from what she was used to.

“I thought it would be a good experience; I really wasn’t expecting to make the court,” she says. “But what a nice surprise it was when I did. If I had been a tad too much of a tom boy up to that point, that experience made me more of a lady — in a hurry,” she adds with a laugh. “I joke about that being my finishing school. All the people involved in it were just wonderful, and it definitely made me more rounded.”

Anne’s leadership traits would be on display throughout her college experience as well. She had garnered some attention from the Air Force Academy for softball and from the University of Washington for basketball. But when no scholarship offers came, she happily accepted one from Pomona Pitzer College, a small California school in the Claremont system.

“It was halfway between Los Angeles and Palm Springs, and I’m a sun person. So, it was an easy sell,” Anne says.

The smaller school size also made it easier for Anne to compete in both of her favorite sports. As a 5-10 freshman forward, she helped the Pomona basketball team go 25-3, with two of those losses coming in the national championship tournament. Her senior year, Anne was named 1st Team All-Conference, team captain and most valuable player. She also earned the latter two honors her senior year on the softball team.

“When you’re a high school senior, you hear all your honors repeated back to you and think, Well, that was fun, while it lasted…those honors,” Anne says with another laugh. “Then when I got to college, I had to pick my jaw off the floor when I saw how much the competition shot up in just one year. But luckily that competitive spirit goes with you.

“The toughest thing about graduating a few years later was, I felt like I was still getting better. All the honors I got were before I turned 20. But when I graduated at age 21, I was thinking I hadn’t played my best ball yet. But I was blessed and grateful to be able to play as long as I did.”

After earning her business degree, Anne moved back to Portland, got married, played city league ball and worked in sales before returning to school, at Concordia College, and earning a second degree in education.

“My husband and I were starting to think about starting a family, and I thought teaching would be a job I could juggle with motherhood and coaching,” says Anne, who in both paid and volunteer positions specialized in working with kids with learning disabilities.

Both her son, Grant, now 24, and daughter, Grace, 22, were athletes at Central Catholic, and Anne says she “spent many years volunteering on the court and in their classrooms.”

Being named to the PIL Hall of Fame, Anne says, put a nice bow on the gift that was her athletic career.

“What a blessing to have the physical ability to participate in athletics,” she wrote in her online bio.  “It was an opportunity I try not to take for granted.”

Anne was nominated to the Hall of Fame by one of her favorite coaches, Ken Trapp. “He was so much fun to play for, just super enthusiastic,” she says. “He’d drive all over town picking me up from a Rose Festival event to make sure I could make a softball game.”

She was thrilled to be inducted in the same year, 2014 (coincidentally, on her birthday, Oct. 19) as one of her best friends, Franklin grad Michelle Fuller Apodaca, whom Anne had met when both were on the Rose Festival Court. Also there for the ceremony was Randy Gregory, a good friend from Marshall now living in Baltimore with ALS (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis) disease.

“Randy was a basketball player that Coach Trapp introduced me to on my first day at school,” Hutson says. “We would both have games Friday night and then we’d would show up at the gym Saturday to play hoops as well. He was in there pushing me to be better, making sure the guys knew that, if they were short a player, they could ask me to play.

“He flew from Baltimore to Portland in his wheelchair to be at the induction ceremony. I kept telling him, ‘You don’t have to do this.’ But he said he wouldn’t miss it.”

Ten years later, Anne says Gregory, who was a junior college coach for several years in Baltimore, “is still inspiring me and countless others. He still texts me weekly to make sure I’m staying out of trouble.”

Which begs the question, are you Anne? Asking for another friend from your past. Rotund fella. White beard. Red suit. Drives a sleigh.

“I try,” she says.

Do you know Anne Backus Hutson? If you’d like to reconnect, she can be reached at

Photo Note: Click on a photo to see its caption.


CyberMuseum bio:

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