After 30 years with athletic media relations, Abicht retires

Anne Abicht. Photo courtesy of Tom Nelson/Husky Athletics
Anne Abicht. Photo courtesy of Tom Nelson/Husky Athletics

After 30 years of service as the director of athletic media relations at SCSU, Anne Abicht is making the move from the press box to her family’s lake home in Alexandria, Minn. after her retirement from the field July 1, 2015.

Since her arrival as the sports information director in January 1985, SCSU moved its hockey program to NCAA Division I, and three women’s sports have been added to the list of Husky sports.

In her time with SCSU Abicht has received multiple CoSIDA (College Sports Information Directors of America) awards, including their 25-Year Award, Trailblazer Award, she has also been named to the CoSIDA Board of Directors. Most recently, though, Abicht has received CoSIDA’s Lifetime Achievement Award and been named to the CoSIDA Hall of Fame.

“Over the course of time she’s worked NCAA championships, the Olympics, and conference tournaments” assistant director of athletic media relations, Thomas Nelson said. “She’s really put a big footprint up there.”

Times — technology mostly — have changed immensely since Abicht’s tenure began with SCSU. Going from a typewriter and phone calls to-and-from sources, to live-chats and real-time Twitter updates have been among some of the challenges Abicht has dealt with first hand. According to Heather Weems and Nelson, these are challenges she’s overcome and continues to use in order to improve SCSU’s sports coverage.

“Her continuous activity with CoSIDA has helped her develop and continue to progress with the fast paced changes in media, especially in the last 10 years with all the social media that have come to surface,” SCSU athletic director, Weems said. “People want pictures and they want video, they still want the box scores, but they want live chatting, it’s no longer that they just want the score after the game.

“There is an expectation that it’s on demand service.”

Along with having to overcome the technological advances, Abicht is considered a pioneer by colleagues, taking on a bigger challenge in being one of few women in the field.

“Women still to this day are still not as common in sports information or as directors of media relations and athletic communications,” Weems said. “Part of it is also related to them having families, as they get older it starts putting more of a challenge on it.”

Abicht hopes that her movement and success in the field show young women who are interested in the field, that it’s something that’s very possible to strive towards.

“I hope they look up to us and come to us with questions,” Abicht said. “I’ve had some young women come through as grads and undergraduates and some are in the profession right now, so that is very rewarding.”

Heading into her freshman year at the University of Minnesota-Duluth, Abicht never saw her career moving the way that it did, straying away from her initial plan, but staying close to athletics.

“I fell into this,” Abicht said. “When I went to college I thought I was going to be going into law school or going into natural resources and I ended up in mass communications.”

“My junior year a friend of mine, who was also a mass comm major said that he saw there was an internship available in the sports information department,” Abicht said. “I loved sports, have always played them… so I went into the office, got the internship and worked in their office for two years.”

Though she ended up at SCSU, her journey out of college at UMD brought exciting opportunities immediately after graduation, securing a position as the director of sports information for women’s athletics for NDSU.

“My senior year, working with the women’s basketball team and we’d just gotten done playing North Dakota State and the coach said, ‘You know they’re going to be looking for a sports information person next year,’ so that began the process.”
After receiving the tip, Abicht applied for the job as a senior at UMD, where she followed up with interviews throughout the summer and found herself in the NDSU media relations office in August.

Abicht joined the SCSU staff in the middle of the 1985 school year, after receiving a call from her friend and work acquaintance at SCSU, who took an opportunity with USA hockey. Abicht took over the position, building her staff from just herself, to what now includes an assistant, graduate assistants and some volunteers to help with website and social media promotions.

A Burnsville, Minn. native, Abicht liked the fact that it was closer to home, as well as an opportunity to develop the position and profession.

Among the hustle and bustle of sports, Abicht stresses the importance of finding a good work-life balance, which is harder than most individuals think according to Weems, considering it is rarely a 9-to-5 job. While Abicht might not miss all the late nights and early mornings that go into making things runs smooth, the people she’s grown close to in the office will be missed.

“I read somewhere a long time ago, that you spend more time with your work family than you do with your real family and I think that’s really true, especially in athletics,” Abicht said. “There are a lot of very special people in this office and that I work with, some that are very important to me such as Tom Nelson and Terry Tschida, who have been long time assistants.”

Along with sharing time with her work family and real family, Abicht does what she can to feature all of Husky sports and not get caught up in only representing the “big ticket” athletics.

“When you’re around the sports as much as we are, you see the amount of pride and energy that goes into every team,” Abicht said. “It doesn’t matter if it’s cross country or men’s hockey, they still go out and practice everyday and compete on the weekends, they go to class and some even go to work.

“They deserve it, they’re working just as hard as the Duke men’s basketball team or the Connecticut women’s basketball team.”

The hard work on by athletes is something fans can see, but Nelson describes Abicht as the epitome of the profession, doing the behind the scenes work that only those working along side of her get to witness.

“She’s [Abicht] very humble… likes to put the spotlight on other people and that’s just her personality,” Nelson said. “Her humbleness, ability to get the job done,  hard work and dedication have allowed her to get the recognition that she deserves.

“Our office markets the athletes and the athletic programs, and all those ticket sales and views come back to our office, and Anne [Abicht] has been a key player in that progression.”

While there will be a hole left in the athletic media relations office, Abicht plans to live the “Minnesota” life at her lake home in Alexandria, Minn. noting that the biggest change will be being away from the day-to-day life she’s been accustomed to since 1985.

“She’s put her mark on the program at St. Cloud State,” Nelson said. “She’s really helped establish the athletic program.
“It’s been really nice being able to work with someone as an employee who you respect, but also consider one of your friends… it’s one of the reasons that I’ve stayed here so long.”

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