A Tribute to Anne Renninger
Liz Kellison '83

A Tribute to Anne Renninger

Anne Renninger came to Sidwell in the fall of 1981, making the move from college sports to her first high school coaching job, agreeing to be the head coach of both the Varsity Basketball and Tennis teams.  She arrived on campus with serious credentials, both as an athlete and as a coach:  

  • As an athlete, she lettered in three sports (tennis, basketball and track) for the University of Maryland; she was captain, leading scorer, assist leader, and leading rebounder of the Maryland Varsity Basketball team; played in the first nationally televised women’s college basketball game; and was inducted into the Frederick County Hall of Fame.
  • As a college coach, Anne was the first Head Coach of the George Washington University Women’s Basketball program; served as Head Coach, Track & Field, College of William and Mary; and had been Assistant Coach, University of Maryland Women’s Basketball.

Back in the late fall of 1981, I was an 11th grader and captain of Anne’s very first Varsity Basketball team, welcoming the big-time coach to the small-time team (Go Quakers). There are two views as to how all of this played out. First, Anne’s perspective, as we had a less than stellar record for basketball in particular.  Seriously, I cannot imagine what she must have been thinking over those initial days and weeks putting our team through the paces, college style drills included.  Did she know we would not come to practice if we had a big test or paper due the next day? Was she aware that most of us could only dribble with one hand?  For my part, I had played on both the Girls Varsity Tennis and Basketball teams since 9th grade, so I thought I knew a thing or two about sports. I soon learned that I knew very little – ha!  Over the next 2+ years she had a tremendous impact on me in both sports and more importantly, in life. 

Anne was an amazing technical coach and motivator. She taught me (and all of us) about leadership on the court, picking myself up after a bad shot, about team dynamics, and how to scout an opponent. Most importantly she taught me to appreciate and enjoy sports and the life lessons that come with competition. I loved both tennis and basketball because of her coaching and mentoring of my teammates and me. Not only did she know a lot, but she had a killer sense of humor. 

This is one of my favorite photos taken by her late husband, Chris, of me with Poff (as we used to and still do call her) during my senior year. Somehow back then she knew that her effect on me would be long lasting. I went on from Sidwell to play tennis and basketball at Williams College, then coached both girls and boys basketball when I became a teacher, and all the while still playing competitive tennis. 

Until her retirement in 2019, Anne Renninger had worked at Sidwell Friends for an amazing stretch of 39 years! Despite the auspicious start with our team, her accomplishments over her career remain impressive.  As the head basketball coach for 20 years, she won over 570 games, numerous league championships, and had many teams ranked in the Washington Post Top 10 (including finishing as the #2 team in the area). Anne was also the head coach of the Girls Varsity Tennis team, Girls’ Track, and the Golf team. As Head Girls’ Track Coach, Anne led SFS to eight track championships. 

In 2001, Anne went on to become the Athletic Director, after serving as Assistant and Associate Director for over a decade and then went on to serve as the AD for sixteen years.  Her list of accomplishments during her time as an administrator is equally impressive. She wrote the bylaws for the founding of the Independent School League (ISL). During her tenure as Athletic Director, Sidwell Friends won 11 Directors’ Cup for the best overall athletic performance in the Mid-Atlantic Athletic Conference (MAC). Anne also worked with the District of Columbia State Athletic Association to establish the new DCSAA Championships, and Sidwell has won DCSAA titles in six sports (baseball, girls’ and boys’ cross-country, football, boys’ soccer, and boys’ tennis).  Anne was recognized in 2017 with the Patsy T. Mink Equity in Education Award for her work promoting girls’ sports as a coach and athletic director, and in 2018 was inducted into the DCSAA High School Athletics Hall of Fame. 

Throughout her tenure at Sidwell, Anne impacted hundreds of peoples’ lives both on and off the court.  With her long list of accomplishments and beyond the records and titles, many recall what a wonderful mentor and peer she has been. Cheers to you, Poff, as you set off on this next phase of your life!