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Annie Adamczak-Glavan Still Shines as a Minnesota Sports Legend

Annie Glavan, Volleyball

Annie Adamczak-Glavan is worldly enough now to recognize the absurdity of her story: The ninth of 12 children raised on a hobby farm in tiny Moose Lake, Minnesota, about 40 minutes southwest of Duluth, rises to become a three-sport prep superstar who becomes one of the most recognizable figures after the impact of Title IX.

She was featured in virtually every major news organization in the state. This press tour included a visit from a St. Paul Pioneer Press reporter and photographer, who shadowed her to school, softball practice, and throughout her home.

Annie is accustomed to people approaching her at the Minnesota State Fair.

"People stop me and ask, 'Are you, Annie Adamczak?' I'm like, 'How do people remember?' Maybe it's the kitschy name, the small town, or that we took the stage after Title IX and media coverage picked up, and all those stars lined up in the same year. 

"It's the Norman Rockwell type of thing that people want to hear about."

Modest start on the family farm

When Annie was a little girl, Moose Lake, Minnesota had a population of about 1,400 people, and the community featured one school building that served students in grades kindergarten through 12. She was one of 72 graduates her senior year at Moose Lake High School.

Her family lived two miles out of town, a bike ride that featured a gravel road and a stretch on the shoulder of Minnesota 73. Annie's father, Bob, was what she calls a "jack of all trades."  He was a man who didn't finish high school, worked in a paper mill, and sold vacuum cleaners and insurance before becoming a contractor who carved out a niche, initially making pole barns before building custom homes.

There were lots of chores for the children, especially with as many as 40 heads of cattle and other animals such as chickens, hens, turkeys, goats, and sheep. Her father was very traditional; he expected his sons to tend to the matters outside the house and his daughters to do chores inside the house. 

After one of her older sisters left, Annie remained the only girl at home to pick up the chores list.

"And that's a lot of dishes," Annie says, "and there was no dishwasher in the house, except for me! I would sit at that kitchen sink for an hour or hour and a half while they were on the couch watching the Brady Bunch. One of them would say, 'Hey, how's it going?' But there was payback on Saturday."

That's because Bob would wake up his four sons at 6 a.m., spending most of the day chopping wood, hauling hay, and lots of other hard-labor work on the farm."

"And I'd be like, 'How's that going?' I would never have to do any of that," Annie recalls.

In her early years, Annie's exposure to sports was attending practices and games of her older brothers. Otherwise, she says, Annie isn't sure she would have ever fallen for sports.

But with so many siblings, Annie learned sports at home, with improvised basketball hoops and baseball diamonds. In fact, kids would ride their bikes to the farm to play baseball. 

"It was a Field of Dreams type of thing," Annie says.

The backstop and scoreboard were constructed with 2 x 4s and other spare wood, and their mom made the bases out of scrap pieces of leather. They used their father's construction chalk to make the lines; the left field was a 10-foot cow fence, and the right field was the fencing for their pole barn.

"There was a little gap in center field, so it wasn't legit length," she says. "But man, we'd have battles out there."

The kids kept stats, and Annie's competitiveness shone through.

"She had a natural talent," Kathy Fredrickson, the former Moose Lake volleyball coach, told the Duluth News Tribune in 2012. "She was such a good athlete that she could have done anything. She could have been the state champion golfer or the state tennis champion."

Annie showcased her immense athletic potential in softball first. She was a talented fielder but, as a 12-year-old, could hurl a 65-mile-per-hour fastball. Along with four other girls in her class, Annie rotated between multiple sports, going from volleyball to basketball and then softball/ track.

Annie Glavan, Volleyball Moose Lake

"Everybody played every sport, and sometimes two at the same time because you couldn't field rosters for both track and softball," she says. "But the town was super supportive."

Ready to shine

Annie's skills were developed on the hobby farm without shiny new equipment and professionalized training. After all, she didn't have the benefit of YouTube or any videos, mostly what she had seen at local ball games. Annie honed her pitching through trial and error; countless windmill pitches fired against the side of the barn. 

She knew, for instance, that changing her grip on the ball would yield various movements of the ball. Her underhanded repertoire featured the 65-mile-per-hour fastball, but she also had a knuckler, a curveball, and a 45-mile-per-hour change-up. 

The first basket at the hobby farm was in the garage, on a gravel road, so the ball bounced everywhere. Then, after a few errant shots broke the window on the garage, their father relented, put a basket on a pole, and paved the driveway. They drew in a free throw line and a lane. But it was far from a regulation court: The backboard was made of plywood, and the blacktop wasn't flat, so you might be shooting down or up, depending on where you were.

"You grew up learning how to play a lot of different angles," she says.

The games with her siblings were intense, and Annie's parents never got involved. Her parents weren't big sports fans, so they attended their children's games.

"'I don't have time to watch you, I don't have time to coach you,' "Annie recalls her father saying. "'I just need to work.'"

The family battles, though, often ended with somebody bleeding. 

That never bothered Annie. So intensely focused on winning, Annie had the personality and the passion for pushing those around her, too.

"You need to be in practice and work your butt off. You need to run hard, hit the ball hard, and you need to pay attention to the coach," Annie says of her message to teammates. "Not that I was good. I wanted us to be good."

And Moose Lake became a force.

During the 1981-82 school year, Annie went undefeated in volleyball, softball, and basketball, compiling a record of 79-0 en route to state titles in each sport. In softball, she terrified opponents with her array of pitches. Not surprisingly, she went two straight seasons without losing a game. All told, Annie was a five-time state champion but saved the best for last. 

The accolades poured in: She was Minnesota Ms. Basketball, National High School Athletic Coaches Association Prep All-American Girl Athlete, and Hertz Rent-a-Car #1 Minnesota Athlete of the Year. She was also highlighted in Sports Illustrated's "Faces in the Crowd" section because of her ERA of 0.005.

Despite her obvious talent in all three sports, Annie dreamed of playing in the NBA, and she was inspired by Larry Bird, a Hall of Fame forward who hailed from tiny French Lick, Indiana. 

"I was going to be the first female to play in the NBA," she said of her childhood dream.

While scholarship offers poured in for her to play volleyball, Annie says there was virtually no interest in her preferred sport. She wonders if it's because there weren't videos of her games and her stats weren't eye-popping. She had other talented teammates, so Annie's 18 points per game weren't overwhelming to big-time programs.

"We were well balanced, and we averaged 72 points a game as a team," Annie says. "I don't think they thought I was a prolific enough scorer."

In their march toward a state title, Annie recalls playing one opponent who averaged 32 points a game and earned a basketball scholarship. But Annie's team defeated that player's team by 15 points.

So Annie thought the University of Nebraska was a "safe" choice, drivable from home and a respected program with excellent facilities. But she was raw and unpolished and didn't have a command of the rules.

"I played volleyball like you play at church—just whack it over," she says. "But there were positions, and you pass it to the setter, and you run an offense, and you swing block. I didn't know what any of that stuff was.

"I was like a bull in a china shop."

Annie Glavan Playing Volleyball

She initially didn't practice with the varsity team at Nebraska, spending time in a smaller gym learning footwork and the basics of playing volleyball at a high level. Her athleticism, however, was her ticket to picking everything up so quickly. She was so explosive and would rain spikes down on opponents with fury.

Annie had many ups and downs at Nebraska, including a stint when she played on the basketball team, but she finished her career there as strong as she had in high school. She was named an All-American in 1985.

"If I had to go to war and could pick one person to be in the foxhole with, it would be Annie Adamczak," Nebraska coach Terry Pettit wrote once in a Nebraska media guide. "She's the most competitive player I've ever coached."

Annie headed overseas to play volleyball professionally. Unfortunately, her team in Germany had a host of problems, and she returned to the United States.

She was inducted into the Minnesota High School Softball Hall of Fame in 1992, Moose Lake High School Hall of Fame in 2010, and the Minnesota State Basketball Hall of Fame in 2020.

Along with her husband, Mike Glavan, they have three children. She has led CLUB 43 out of Hopkins for 14 years, sharing her immense experience and insight with girls who play volleyball.

Not surprisingly, Annie is an intense coach, but her athletes appreciate her.

Jaelyn Young credits CLUB 43 for helping her develop when other programs didn't see the potential.

"I didn't know much about the recruiting process, and I was very late in the game," says Young, who plays at Fairleigh Dickinson University. "So having Annie help me and guide me a little bit — a lot, actually — made me feel really important. I didn't have to do it all by myself. 

"At 43, you can always have one-on-one time with Annie, and she's always there for you."

Nominated as one of Minnesota's Title IX honorees, Annie shows women and girls alike that you do not need to be defined by your sport. As a multisport athlete in volleyball, basketball, and softball, Annie showed Minnesota, and the world for that matter, women can achieve anything they put their minds to. 

Today, Annie continues to push to level the playing field in sports through CLUB 43, which allows her to expand on her mission to 'play with a purpose.' The CLUB continues to provide athletes and their families with quality coaching, training, facilities, and management.

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