New Anoka HS activities director a familiar face

Staff Writer
Since 2013, I have primarily covered the Anoka-Hennepin and Spring Lake Park school districts as well as the city of Spring Lake Park for ABC Newspapers.

Teacher, coach, parent and now activities director.

Lance Wicks started as Anoka High School’s activities director Monday, Aug. 21. Photo by Olivia Alveshere
Lance Wicks started as Anoka High School’s activities director Monday, Aug. 21. Photo by Olivia Alveshere

Lance Wicks is a familiar face at Anoka High School after teaching math there for more than 20 years.

He was the head girls tennis coach last year and 10th grade football coach until last week.

His daughter graduated from AHS in June, and his son will start his sophomore year Sept. 5.

With activities director Gwen Poore’s resignation in August, the door opened for Wicks to step into a role he has always wanted.

Balancing family life with the demanding job of activities director is daunting, but now that Wicks’ kids are a little older, it’s “a perfect time” for him to take on the role, he said.

Wicks describes overseeing 26 sports, 40 clubs, AHS’s theater program, musical ensembles, visual arts groups, debate and speech teams and more as “a gargantuan task,” but he is up to the challenge.

“I know the traditions, and I know the culture of Anoka,” he said. “That’s been my strength, and that’s been my sanity.”

Wicks’ first day on the job was Aug. 21 – orientation day for the Class of 2021. Before 8 a.m. on day one, he had already addressed hundreds of students.

When he asked students who planned to participate in one or more activities their freshman year, about 85 percent of students indicated that they did.

“Our challenge is to get everyone – 100 percent,” Wicks said.

“He’s stepping into a very difficult job, and the learning curve will be high,” Principal Mike Farley said. But he has every confidence Wicks will adapt to and thrive in his new position.

Wicks has never held an administrative position before, earning his master’s in administration from Saint Mary’s University 15 years ago. Before that, he earned a master’s in curriculum, also from Saint Mary’s.

He earned his undergraduate degree from the University of St. Thomas and graduated from St. Anthony Village High School, where he played football, tennis and the trumpet.

Wicks knew he wanted to be a teacher after seeing the happiness and success of his parents, both teachers. Two of his siblings also became teachers.

His first job out of college was teaching in Onamia, near Mille Lacs Lake.

He came to Anoka in 1993 and has coached baseball, basketball, football and tennis over the years.

Now he’ll be on the court and in the concert hall instead of the classroom full time, coordinating buses, finding referees and so much more in his work overseeing dozens of programs.

“We’re all in this together,” he said of the Anoka Family. “I believe in the community. I believe in the kids. I believe in the coaches.”

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