New Activities Director hopes to build on new traditions at Anoka High School

Wednesday afternoon, new Anoka High School Activities Director Gwen Poore tries to locate soccer officials for a game at Goodrich Field that was supposed to start at 4 p.m. instead of the typical 5 p.m. kick off.

Resolving scheduling issues (timing, transportation and officials) is just one item on a rather full plate for someone whose first day on the job was Aug. 12, the same day fall sports practices began. She joined the school late because of some coursework that needed to be completed before her license would transfer from Illinois to Minnesota.

Anoka Activities Director Gwen Poore joined the staff Aug. 12 and hopes to continue to build on the traditions already in place and continue to grow the level of participation of both students and the community.
Anoka Activities Director Gwen Poore joined the staff Aug. 12 and hopes to continue to build on the traditions already in place and continue to grow the level of participation of both students and the community. Photo by Jason Olson

Poore comes to Anoka after a similar role as activities director at Elgin (Ill.) High School in suburban Chicago from 2009-2011. The dynamics of the district were similar to that of District 11, she said.

“I’m very familiar with … a large district with multiple, five, high schools and one superintendant,” Poore said.

She resigned from Elgin in June, 2011 to follow her husband, Pat Poore, to the University of Minnesota where he joined Football Coach Jerry Kill’s coaching staff as wide receiver coach. Pat Poore has coached on Kill’s staff since 2001, first at Southern Illinois, then three seasons at Northern Illinois and now the University of Minnesota.

Aug. 29 wasn’t just opening night for prep football.

The Gophers lifted the lid on the third season of the Kill-coaching era and Poore saw the opening moments with the other coaches wives before navigating traffic to Park Center High School where the Tornadoes were in the middle of a 1-0 start.

“My husband is so supportive and knows my job comes first,” Poore said. “High school events are my first priority and if we have time, I’ll be there for a [Gophers] football game.”

Poore credits her predecessors, John Baufield and Matt Mennier, for creating a well-orchestrated system at Anoka’s venues.

“I go to an event and the site coordinator has everything ready to go,” she said. “So, it makes my job very, very easy,” she said.

This allows her to build relationships with the community and connect with students and athletes even more, according to Poore.

Scheduling has been her biggest challenge so far, navigating contracts and figuring out who to talk with at the district level.

“Since I started so late, most of the coaches were in place and I just had to compile a lot of information to make sure things move smoothly,” she said.

An increase in participation in fall sports has generated at least four new Anoka teams including a 9B boys’ soccer team and B squad girls’ soccer and two additional football squads (10B and 9B), so building schedules was a challenge.

Poore grew up in rural Kansas and was a three-sport (volleyball, basketball and track) athlete in high school. She helped the basketball team capture a state title as a sophomore. “I’ve been around sports my whole life,” the mother of two college graduates said.

Her son competed in track at Southern Illinois and is working on a master’s degree in computer science, while her daughter graduated from Southern Illinois with a degree as a dental hygienist.

While working on a business administration degree, Poore interned with an athletic director and immediately knew she had a future in athletic administration because that was where her professional passion was. “I enjoy all of the positives that go along with it,” she said. “The effect athletics has on kids is one of the skills you cannot take away.”

Three weeks into her new role at Anoka, Poore continues to be amazed by the friendly, passionate and helpful people in the community.

“I’ve been so impressed with the staff, coaches and all the student-athletes,” she said. “It’s been amazing just in terms of the family aspect and Mr. [Mike] Farley says ‘this is a family’ and it really is. Everyone supports each other.”

While getting to know the booster clubs, Poore said their reception has been nothing short of great. “We have some high-class boosters that are doing wonderful things for our programs and without them we just wouldn’t survive,” she said.

Walking through the entrance to the fieldhouse, Poore said the tradition and history was quite impressive from the wrestling room to Goodrich Field and everything in between.

One goal she has set is to connect with alumni, including those inducted into the hall of fame and those on the numerous state tournament trophies. “We want to develop that connection to make sure we include those people in what we do on campus and I have some ideas,” Poore said.

To ensure more students have the chance to participate in activities, Poore said the Caring and Sharing Fund will continue to thrive, with support. Students raise money to donate to the fund.

“It’s been a wonderful piece so no student is denied because they can’t afford the activities fees,” she said.

Jason Olson is at
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