Washington, DC – The Sage Colleges' Director of Athletic Communications Ann King (Clifton Park, NY) was honored at the 2018 College Sports Information Directors of America (CoSIDA) convention in Washington, DC at an awards luncheon held in conjunction with the annual meeting and professional development workshop on June 30.
The dictionary defines the word "trailblazer" as a person who marks or prepares a trail for others to follow.
That would definitely describe Ann King and her 32-year sports information career. She is this year's recipient of the CoSIDA Mary Jo Haverbeck Trailblazer Award. The Trailblazer Award is presented annually to a CoSIDA member who is a pioneer in the field of sports information who has mentored and helped improve the level of ethnic and gender diversity within CoSIDA.
King just finisher her ninth year at The Sage Colleges as Director of Athletic Communications, following a 17-year run at The College of the New Jersey and six years at alma mater Drew University. She has literally done it all in this business. She has worked with national championship teams, superb coaches and many exceptional student-athletes while serving CoSIDA on numerous committees with a stint on the CoSIDA Board of Directors; she has served in leadership roles within ECAC-SIDA and the CoSIDA's D3SIDA group. Included among King's numerous awards are the 2003 CoSIDA Warren Berg Award and induction into the CoSIDA Hall of Fame in 2006.
She also served as a member of the NCAA Media Coordination Advisory Board from 2012-2015. In the spring of 2017, King was selected to participate in the NCAA Division III CoSIDA Student Program, serving as a mentor to a rising college senior looking to pursue a career in intercollegiate athletics.
Throughout her storied career, one thing that has always stayed with her was a friendship and wisdom gained from another professional … Mary Jo Haverbeck.
In March of 2014, the CoSIDA Board of Directors approved naming the Trailblazer Award in honor of Haverbeck, the former Penn State athletic media relations pioneer and advocate for women and ethnic minorities in athletic communications. Haverbeck was the first recipient of the Trailblazer honor.
"Words just don't begin to explain how much MJ (Haverbeck) meant to me and to so many others. She was a kind and generous soul with a passion to help young people find their way," commented King. "She was more than a mentor, she was a friend, a role model, and a champion for women in our profession. As much as I looked forward to attending the CoSIDA Convention every year, I looked forward to time spent with her."
"We had a tradition to meet every morning for coffee and breakfast. We assessed the day we had just enjoyed and planned for the day ahead," stated King. "It was a special little thing we always did together and helped us brainstorm about all sorts of topics."
Those brainstorm meetings over the years led to the creation of FAME (Female Athletic Media Relations Executives), now known as WoSIDA, with King as a charter member of the group. FAME/WoSIDA has mentored numerous females in the profession, and especially brought in talented individuals as well as assist them with work life balance while providing them with guidance as they become leaders.
"Many times, when you are nominated for a named award, you have no idea who the person was, what they stood for or what was truly important to them professionally," said Debbie Copp, Director of Publications at Oklahoma. "Two words come to my mind with both Mary Jo and Ann - dedication and passion. With Ann, passion and dedication walk side by side, another characteristic she shares with this award's namesake. While some people may be over zealous in their commitment to passion and dedication, hyping those who don't deserve the praise, Ann does it with an even approach that makes her message stronger."
King can no longer have those breakfast meetings with Haverbeck, who passed away in 2014, but she has taken the message of those meetings forward.
"Ann is the first to volunteer as a mentor to a young SID, the first to serve on an NCAA or CoSIDA committee, the first to provide support to a colleague going through a tough stretch. Her optimism and dedication have been a great help to CoSIDA and so many of its members, commented Shelly Poe, Assistant Athletic Director for Media Relations at Auburn. "She is never too busy to help, and she does all of this while being a great mom and supportive wife in a two-career athletics household."
A 1986 graduate of Drew University with a B.A. in American Studies, King resides in Clifton Park, NY with her husband, Tracy King, the commissioner of the Liberty League. The couple has a son, Robert who is 12 years old. She is the eldest daughter of Bob Bready of Wilbraham, MA and Judy O'Neill of Grass Valley, CA. As dedicated as King has been to the profession, she is also a dedicated mother to her son Robert and wife to husband Tracy. King has championed work-life balance for SIDs throughout her career.
There is no sign of King slowing down anytime soon. In just the last few weeks while dealing with the cross-over season on her campus and at home, she volunteered at the NCAA Division I Women's Basketball Regional in Albany and, as vice president of D3SIDA, is helping plan programming for Division III Day at this year's CoSIDA Convention. In fact, she will serve a term as D3SIDA president in 2019.
"Ann has always advocated for all our members to get the very most out of the profession she loves," said Poe. "She has been a trailblazer in so many ways and is a deserving recipient of the award named for her friend and role model Mary Jo Haverbeck."
"Being able to help others and maybe foster the careers' of others in our profession is the least I can do to carry the tradition that MJ did for me and so many others," stated King. "Words just don't begin to explain how much MJ meant to me and to so many others. She was a kind and generous friend with a passion to help young people find their way. To be honored with an award that is named for her just means the world to me."
No matter how you define it, Ann King is a true trailblazer.
Story by Lenny Reich, Mount Union College Assistant to the Athletic Director/Sports Information Director/D3SIDA President