A few years ago, my distinguished colleague, who now doubles as a food critic, Mr. Jeremy Millsop, wrote a story that was entitled “Saints of the sports world.” It was about the secretaries in activities offices throughout Central Minnesota who make Brainerd Dispatch sports writers’ jobs a bit easier.
Today, there is one less saint in the Brainerd High School Activities Office.
This week, Kathy Sullivan worked her last day in the BHS Activities Office. There is no way I can ever repay her for everything she’s done for me the past seven years but I’m going to give it a shot.
If you’re a Warrior coach or athlete, or a parent with a student involved in activities, Kathy was likely the person who greeted you when you entered the office. I can’t imagine she ever greeted anyone without a smile despite dealing with many issues simultaneously.
Ever dropped into the BHS Activities Office? It’s a beehive of activity. Phone ringing off the hook. Coaches, athletes and parents walking in, needing assistance. Kathy was a steadying, calming influence.
During her tenure, she was my contact for Warrior Athlete of the Week stories. When the athlete was selected, she was the person I called to arrange for the student to come to the office and call me. Without Kathy’s assistance, the process wouldn’t have been as seamless, and as enjoyable.
Athlete of the week stories weren’t the only way in which Kathy assisted me. Anytime I called, no matter how busy she was, no matter the request, she made sure I received the help and information I needed.
How could you not value working with someone whose emails were tagged with sayings like:
“Thank you and make it a great day! Kathy. Go Warriors!”
Or “Attitudes are contagious! Is yours worth catching?”
I’m not the only one who benefited from Kathy’s assistance.
She virtually ran the department when former activities director Todd Selk tended to family matters last year.
Kathy was a trove of information, and a rock of stability, for first-year activities director Charlie Campbell, who in his first few months had to hire four head coaches while attempting to figure out how to run 30-some athletic programs and activities.
“As the new guy coming into this pretty big position, she just immediately starts directing my calendar, my to-do list, my appointments, all in a way that’s nurturing,” Campbell said. “At the same time that she’s nurturing, she’s really being direct, giving direction, just helping me be so much better at my job.
“It’s hard to put into words how much she did for me. (Wednesday) night we had a little social for her and I took one look at her and tried to communicate that. I teared up. She was so important to me, personally and professionally, coming into that new environment.”
Kathy was treasured by Warrior coaches as well.
“They relied on her for so many things,” he said, “and to do it with a smile, with such positive energy, and a tireless work ethic. We’re all better because of her service to Warrior athletics, there’s no question.
“I never knew that people could be that productive and that efficient. I would have thought that was impossible. Kathy set a high bar, no doubt about it.”
The last few years I started calling her the “World’s Greatest.” She truly deserved that distinction, being one of the most upbeat, most positive people I’ve ever met.
Kathy’s leaving to work with families as an in-home therapist. She’s as passionate about helping families as she is about Warrior activities. I know she has been riding an emotional roller coaster, leaving a job she loves but she’ll be the “World’s Greatest” in her new occupation.
So “World’s Greatest,” on behalf of Warrior coaches and athletes, parents, staff and fans, we’re going to miss you terribly. We’re so sorry to see you go. But Warrior activities’ loss is social services’ gain. And we wish you the best in your new career.
MIKE BIALKA, sports editor, may be reached at 855-5861. Follow on Twitter at www.twitter.com/bertsballpark.