Anamosa activities director Bret Jones planned on sending out long-time activities secretary Deb Hardersen out with the acclaim she so rightly deserved.

Attending the annual state conference for athletic directors and watching the state hand out the award for Administrative Assistant of the Year Award, Jones knew Hardersen deserved the award but wanted to save it for a special occasion.

Jones nominated Hardersen in 2019, when she was set to retire at the end of the 2019-2020 year, and was slightly let down when he got the news that she hadn’t been selected.

“When we first got the message back that she didn’t receive it, I was disappointed,” he said.

Fast-forwarding a year, Jones was then shocked when he found out she was this year’s recipient.

“There’s not an activities director secretary that’s more deserving,” Jones said. “I’m super proud that I had the opportunity to nominate her.”

“The Anamosa High School has been a great place to work the past 21 years. I have always tried to give my best effort and to be recognized for just doing my job is truly humbling,” Hardersen said in an email.

For two of the many directors Hardersen worked with in her more than two decades in the position, having her as a steady presence was crucial to their abilities to do their job and do it effectively.

Derek Roberts, who was the district’s activities director from 2003-2014 and now teaches and coaches at Collins Community Schools in Cedar Rapids, had never done the job before being appointed at Anamosa. Prior to Roberts’ arrival, Hardersen had worked with a few different directors in the previous few years.

“She trained essentially five people on just kind of the ins and outs,” Roberts said. “There’s a lot that goes to it. I thought it took two years to really understand what it took day to day.”

“To come into a place where there’s been somebody who’s been doing it for so long certainly would make a smooth transition for any activities director,” Jones said, now in his seventh year in the position.

Even though Jones wasn’t a new activities director when he succeeded Roberts, he came in and learned Hardersen’s system as opposed to bringing how he’d done things in the job.

In addition to providing a sense of normalcy, both Jones and Roberts said there was no harder worker in the position.

“I think it’s awesome and fitting for Deb to receive that award,” Roberts said. “There’s not an activities secretary in the state in the time that she worked that put in the extra time and effort that she did.”

Jones said she probably spent 20 hours a week at home working on activities duties because of her passion for the job. The position requires a lot of organizational ability, and in his six years, nothing with the scheduling was screwed up. There was never a game or match where officials didn’t show up and a team bus never showed up where they weren’t expected or supposed to be.

Her minute attention to detail was so precise, she wanted schedules running down to the minute.

“It was probably more frustrating for Deb to work with me than it was for me to work with her,” Jones said with a laugh. “If I said it was 5:30 p.m. and it started at 5:20 p.m. I was OK with it. Well, if it was 5:20 p.m., she wanted it to be 5:20 p.m.”

Hardersen will receive the award at the state conference in Coralville on March 30, 2021.

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