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Anderson set the gold standard for volleyball officiating

Posted: Friday, October 1, 2021 - 7:42 AM

In 1990, legendary Apple Valley girls volleyball coach Walt Weaver wrote a letter of recommendation to the Minnesota State High School League’s Hall of Fame Committee in support of a nominee. In the articulate, flowing letter, Weaver made a reference to the Minnesota volleyball officiating landscape in the 1970’s as being “simply out of touch with national volleyball standards and the high school game.”

His letter was in support of a Minnesota volleyball official that chose to meet that problem head on. His glowing recommendation was for Fridley’s Anna Bergstrom Anderson. Weaver’s accolades were echoed by others across Minnesota and across the country as Anderson’s tireless efforts were recognized with induction in the League’s first Hall of Fame Class in 1991. In receiving the League’s highest honor of recognition, Anderson, who passed away this past July at the age of 85, was the first female official to be inducted into the prestigious hall.

During a time when Title IX was in its infancy, education and leadership were paramount as girls activities, its participants and coaches, navigated early challenges in establishing guidelines and standards. Anderson led the pack that was eager to learn and establish volleyball roots.

“Anna was really good at maintaining that professional attitude while bridging the gap between people that knew what they were doing and those that did not,” Weaver said recently. “She was a calming factor that was greatly needed when things with volleyball were changing drastically. She pushed for rules interpretations at the state and national levels. She became the motivating voice that allowed kids to play and established the officiating in a way that had not been done before.”

Weaver is also quick to credit Shoreview’s Helen Swanson, who partnered with Anderson in officiating matches as well as assisted her in her trailblazing efforts.

“Anna is one reason high school volleyball is played a high level in Minnesota,” Swanson wrote in a 1990 letter of recommendation. “Good matches require good officials. She has had a hand in training almost every high school referee in the state. Besides traveling as a rules interpreter, she has donated countless hours running clinics and training sessions to develop officials. She is continually officials from college and the (United States Volleyball Association) players.”

Anderson, a 1953 graduate of Minneapolis Roosevelt High School, earned her college degree in physical education and a minor history from the University of Minnesota in 1957. At the University of Minnesota, she participated in volleyball, basketball and softball. After graduation, she taught physical education and supervised cheerleaders in the Roseville School District from 1957-69.

In 1974, she became a League volleyball officials, and two years later, was the co-founder of the Metro Volleyball Officials Association, that assigned nearly 150 officials for more than 100 high schools, six community colleges and 27 college programs. In addition to the recruiting and training of officials, Anderson also authored the League’s training documents and developed a guide for officials that were selected to work at the state tournament.

Her own officiating career included working basketball and volleyball at the high school, college and professional levels. Anderson was an Officials Observer for the Big Ten Conference. Coaching was also a part of her journey. She led the Inver Hills Community College softball team to a state championship in 1977, and two years later, led North Hennepin Community College softball team to a regional championship.

In 1981, and again from 88-92, Anderson served on the National Federation of State High School Association’s Volleyball Rules Writing Committee.

“The quality of Anna’s work has always been exceptional, and her input during the meeting of the committee has always been excellent and reflective of a lot of common sense,” NFHS Assistant Director Susan True wrote in 1990. “She has a fine philosophy of officiating --- be an “invisible” official who calls the game according to the rules, calls a consistent game and facilitates the smooth administration of the match, all of which makes the experience an education and rewarding experience for the participants.”

Anderson’s devotion to the League was observed by many.

“Anna’s loyalty to the (League) is characterized by her turning down many invitations to referee in NCAA regionals when it conflicted with high school play,” Swanson said. “This probably prevented her from advancing to the national NCAA level competition. She is that competent as an official. She truly cares about the (League) and is always ready to help.”

Said Weaver: “Anna was the voice of patience and reason with an incredible vision. She was one of the few people that understood the game the way that it needed to be understood.”

Anna Anderson

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