Q-and-A: Freeman's Kristina Sage to tackle new job as SDHSAA assistant executive director

Apr. 12—PIERRE — Kristina Sage, athletic director at Freeman High School, is in line to become the newest assistant executive director of the South Dakota High School Activities Association.

Per an April 8 press release, the SDHSAA has offered the position to Sage starting in July, pending approval by the SDHSAA Board of Directors at its April 17 meeting. Once approved, Sage will be set to assume the seat held by Jo Auch, formerly of Menno, who has served in the position since 2008, is retiring in June.

According to the release, Sage's duties will include oversight of the SDHSAA sports official's programming, as well as serving as the sport administrator for tennis, volleyball, competitive cheer, competitive dance, sideline cheer, basketball, gymnastics and softball.

Sage, who has been Freeman's AD for seven years and has worked in the school district since 1989, spoke to the Mitchell Republic about her new role, with those answers below, edited for clarity:

Q: What made you want to jump on board with the SDHSAA?

KS: I've coached a lot of sports during my tenure in Freeman, and as athletic director, I've had a chance to be involved with all of the sports at a higher level and work with other ADs across the state. I've really enjoyed getting involved, so I'm looking forward to doing that at the highest level in our state.

Q: In your new role, you'll be serving nearly 180 schools instead of one. What are your initial thoughts on that expanded set of duties?

KS: I feel like I have a good skill set for the role with organization and communication skills. I enjoy working with other people and feel I've done a good job with that throughout my career, whether it be other ADs, coaches, student-athletes or officials. I hope to bring that to the position and continue to promote all of the great things that the SDHSAA does for our state.

Q: Are there any specific responsibilities you're looking forward to having a hand in the most?

KS: As an AD, you work with the officials you hire, but I'm looking forward to that in a broader sense. There are also some sports on the list of responsibilities that are new to me, so that will be a challenge and I look forward to learning more about those sports.

Q: Are you heading into your new role with any goals in mind?

KS: My goal would be to continue with the great work that Jo Auch has done. Those are pretty big shoes to fill because she's been such a great advocate for all member schools. But I also have to make it my own and find my way, as well. Hopefully, that's something that can keep moving forward in a positive manner.

Q: You mention Jo Auch — and Ruth Rehn before her — and their impact, especially as it relates to the furtherance of girls sports in South Dakota. What does it mean to you to be chosen as the next person to carry that baton?

KS: I feel honored to be that person. I think I have those same goals in mind and have always tried to give students those opportunities. As a female in the sports world, I've probably looked out for that a little more for the good of our female athletes here in Freeman. To keep that going, it would be great.

Q: You've occupied a variety of roles during your time in Freeman. As you reflect on those experiences, what stands out?

KS: My time in Freeman has been fantastic. We've had a lot of successful athletic programs in my years here — I've been able to coach some of them and support them — and our fine arts are great, as well. There are just so many good people here in Freeman who have supported me and also the students and the connections you have. That's a hard thing to leave, and that'll be a little different in my job now since I won't be working directly with students every day. I've been able to be involved in education for 34 years, and there's something special about working with the kids.