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Kristina Sage of Freeman to take over as SDHSAA assistant executive director

Freeman School District

Kristina Sage has been appointed to the role of assistant executive director for the South Dakota High School Activities Association. She’ll take over for Jo Auch, who will retire officially from the role this June.

Sage has held numerous coaching positions throughout her years of teaching at Freeman. For the past seven years, she’s held the role of athletic director for the school.

“I’m very excited. I just think it’s a fantastic opportunity and a really exciting job. It involves a lot of things that I enjoy doing – the sports, working with students, schools, athletic directors,” explained Sage. “Jo [Auch] described it as a great ride, so I think that will be the case.”

Jo Auch has been an assistant executive director for the SDHSAA since 2008. Before her, Ruth Rehn was in that role. The duo of Rehn and Auch was responsible for the addition of multiple girls sports and activities, which include the resurgence of girls basketball, volleyball, gymnastics, cheer and dance, girls wrestling, softball, and more.

“I knew Jo [Auch] before she got that job, because she was at Menno and I was at Freeman. To me that was cool, because it was someone from the Corn Belt Conference and from a neighboring school, and she did a great job,” said Sage. “She’s been a great advocate for all the member schools in her years. Big shoes to follow, but I’m looking forward to learning and moving forward.”

For Sage, she grew up at Montrose, west of Sioux Falls. After graduating from Montrose high school, she attended college at Dakota Wesleyan in Mitchell where she competed in basketball and track. She also earned a business and secondary education degree from DWU.

In 1989, she began her teaching and coaching career for both Freeman and Bridgewater. She uniquely had a teaching contract for both schools her first year. After that first year, however, it’s been all Freeman for Kristina Sage.

“I taught typing on manual typewriters. I taught that class and that’s what we did. That was a long time ago. I came to Freeman, I coached lots of stuff, taught business courses and such. Even before I became the [athletic director], I became the secretary of the Corn Belt Conference,” Sage exclaimed. “I started that in the early 90’s. You know, managing the track meets, managing the Corn Belt basketball tournaments that we use to have, and also then I took on region track chair position, and I did that for numerous years.”

Sage believes her experience, and various roles, at Freeman will help her in the next step of her journey with the SDHSAA.

“We’ve had a lot of great things at Freeman high school in my years here. We’ve had successful athletic teams, we’ve had fantastic fine arts at our school as well, so I like that,” she said. “When we had that football team that won four football championships in a row, those guys, they were also singing in the choir, and they were really good at that too. I really liked that.”

Sage’s hiring will become official next week during an approval process at the SDHSAA board of directors meeting.

She’ll take over for Jo Auch on July 1st of this year. Her new role will include being an administrator for tennis, basketball, gymnastics, cheer and dance, and softball.

Nate Wek is currently the sports content producer and sports and rec beat reporter for South Dakota Public Broadcasting. He is a graduate of South Dakota State University with a Bachelor of Science degree in Journalism Broadcasting and a minor in Leadership. From 2010-2013 Nate was the Director of Gameday Media for the Sioux Falls Storm (Indoor Football League) football team. He also spent 2012 and 2013 as the News and Sports Director of KSDJ Radio in Brookings, SD. Nate, his wife Sarah, and two kids Braxan and Jordy, live in Canton, SD.