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Peterson Abiad named assistant director at WIAA

Kate Peterson Abiad

Kate Peterson Abiad, an inaugural member of the River Falls Wildcat Hall of Fame, has been named Assistant Director of the Wisconsin Interscholastic Athletic Association, WIAA Executive Director Dave Anderson announced Tuesday, March 20.

Peterson Abiad was most recently head women's basketball coach at Cleveland State University and formerly was an assistant coach at the University of Wisconsin.

A 1987 graduate of River Falls High School, she was a two-time all-conference softball and basketball player with the Wildcats before going on to earn Kodak All-American honors at UW-Stevens Point in 1991, setting the NCAA Division III record for three-point field goals per game (3.85). She was inducted into the UW-Stevens Point Hall of Fame in 2000 and was a member of the first River Falls Wildcat Hall of Fame class in 2011.

"It is a great honor for me to accept this opportunity to return to my home state and join the WIAA office," Peterson Abiad said. "I look forward to serving the schools, the administrators, and the student-athletes to the best of my abilities. I am anxious to develop new relationships, gain the confidence of the membership, and bring a new perspective to this position.

"Participation in high school athletics can have a tremendous impact in shaping young people and creating future leaders," she continued. "The experiences I had, competing in Wisconsin high school sports, were outstanding. I am grateful for the chance to contribute to that dynamic in the years to come."

Peterson Abiad's responsibilities will include the administration and coordination of duties for the sports of basketball, cross country, soccer, and track and field, as well as tournament planning and cooperative teams. She will officially begin her appointment with the WIAA on April 1. She will fill the vacancy created by the retirement of Associate Director Deb (Hauser) Dinkel.

"Kate is a strong, successful professional who will bring a set of life-experiences to the WIAA executive staff and membership, which will be unique and complementary to our efforts going forward," Anderson said. "We value the example to young women Kate's life and career represent."

Peterson Abiad possesses a wealth of basketball experience with 27 years as a collegiate coach, most recently as head coach at Cleveland State for 15 seasons from 2003-18.

Before her arrival, the Vikings experienced one winning season in 23 years. Peterson Abiad gradually built the program, leading the Vikings to Horizon League Conference Tournament championships and NCAA Tournament appearances in 2007-08 and 2009-10. She is the school's all-time winningest coach with 206 career victories.

She has significant ties with basketball in Wisconsin. Prior to being named the head coach at Cleveland State, she served six seasons as an assistant at the University of Wisconsin from 1997-2003. During that time, Peterson Abiad helped guide the Badgers to three NCAA Tournaments, including 1998, 2001 and 2002—as well as a WNIT championship in 2000 and a runner-up finish in 1999.

Other coaching experience includes assistant stints at Eastern Illinois University from 1993-97 and at Indiana University from 1991-93. She earned her master's degree in counseling and educational psychology from Indiana in 1995.

Peterson Abiad had a stellar collegiate basketball career at UW-Stevens Point prior to graduating with a bachelor's degree in psychology in 1991. She was a four-year starter and was named team MVP and a Kodak All-American her senior season with the Pointers in 1990-91 after setting an NCAA Division III national record for three-point field goals made per game at 3.85.

In announcing she was leaving Cleveland State, Peterson Abiad said she was stepping away from collegiate basketball to focus on her family, She and her husband Phil Abiad, who has served as an assistant coach with the Cleveland State women's volleyball program for the last 18 seasons, have two daughters, 8-year old Mea, and 2-year old Remi.

"For the past 27 years of my life I have lived in the world of college athletics and women's basketball. I was afforded the opportunity to live out my dream of becoming a head collegiate basketball coach by Cleveland State University, and I am forever grateful for the chance they took, 15 years ago, on a young coach with aspirations of making a difference," Peterson Abiad said. "I have loved, and invested in, the development of many remarkable young women while coaching at Cleveland State. They are truly the reason I loved coaching, and I am indebted to them for the lessons they taught me, both on and off the court."

She added: "At this point in my life, I have decided that it is time for me to shift my focus to my own children, and the lifestyle necessary to be a successful college basketball coach does not allow me to do that in a manner that I desire. I am making the difficult decision to leave this profession that I love, so that I may experience more normalcy in my family life and be more involved as I watch my children grow. I am sincerely grateful to Cleveland State University for all of the opportunities and all of the memories over the last 15 seasons."

Bob Burrows

Bob Burrows has been sports editor at the River Falls Journal since 1996 and at the Hudson Star-Observer since 2009. Prior to joining the Journal, Burrows served as sports editor with Ledger Publications in Balsam Lake, Wis. A native of Bayonne, N.J. and a U.S. Navy veteran, Burrows attended Marquette University before completing his studies at UW-River Falls in 1992.

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