ALBANY — With a smile, she described her excitement to take a “dream job” with The College of Saint Rose as its new athletic director.
That school's position, Lori Anctil said, was the only one she could envision taking her away from her job at her former school — and during her introductory press conference Tuesday inside the atrium of Saint Rose’s Events and Athletics Center, seeing faces in the crowd from her old school such as Siena College baseball head coach Tony Rossi and women’s basketball head coach Ali Jaques made her go “off script” from her prepared remarks.
“I really would be remiss if I did not thank all the incredible people from Siena,” Anctil said. “You guys have been with me for so long, and I am here because of the confidence you’ve given me to be here.”
Saint Rose announced Monday its hiring of Anctil to replace Cathy Cummings Haker, who retired in July after serving as Saint Rose’s athletic director for nearly four decades. Anctil, 44, is a Rotterdam native and Mohonasen High School graduate who now lives in Slingerlands with husband Nate, daughter Madilyn and son Jacob. For the last 20 years, Anctil has worked in college athletics, a span spent mostly at Siena where she most recently served as the school’s deputy director of athletics.
Her connection to Siena, though, goes back even further than when she started working there in 1999 as an athletic department academic adviser and assistant compliance officer following her graduation from the University of Buffalo, where she played soccer. During her undergraduate years at Buffalo, Anctil spent a couple summers as a counselor at Siena soccer camps.
“So that was her inaugural job with us,” Siena athletic director John D’Argenio said with a laugh.
Once hired in 1999, Anctil worked at Siena until leaving along with former Saints men’s basketball head coach Louis Orr for Seton Hall University in 2001. Anctil worked as Orr’s director of basketball operations through the 2005-06 season, then returned to Siena in 2007 as the assistant athletic director for development. In 2014, Anctil was promoted to associate athletic director/senior woman administrator at Siena, and she was elevated earlier this summer to assistant vice president and deputy director of athletics.
“She really evolved during her time here,” D’Argenio said, “and where she ended up with us is where her talents are, and that’s in bringing people together.”
Originally, Anctil said a family vacation was scheduled for this week. She said she delayed that trip to Pennsylvania’s Hersheypark to finish up some work at Siena before officially starting next Monday at Saint Rose.
“Lori is competitive, and we like that. Lori is driven,” Saint Rose President Carolyn J. Stefanco said of Anctil, who spent several hours following Tuesday’s press conference back working at Siena. “She’s results-oriented, and she shares our vision for Saint Rose as a national and global institution that draws the very best student-athletes from throughout the world.”
In recent years, Anctil said she interviewed for an athletic director opening at a MAAC school and had offers to interview for a couple other Division I jobs. While she was willing to leave the Capital Region for the right opportunity, Anctil said staying close to home was a priority for her.
“I love Albany. I grew up here. My family is here. This is my home,” said Anctil, whose parents were at Tuesday’s press conference along with her husband and children. “So I wouldn’t want to leave for elsewhere if it didn’t feel right.”
When Haker’s July 1 retirement was announced in early June, Anctil said she was quick to tell D’Argenio she wanted to seek the position at the Division II school that competes in the Northeast-10 Conference.
“I’d never really applied for other positions because I loved it [at Siena] so much. I loved working with John,” Anctil said. “He’s been a fantastic mentor for me, so it took an absolutely perfect situation and scenario for me to leave — and this is it.”
D’Argenio said Anctil has been ready to take the step of running her own athletic department.
“I think so highly of her,” D’Argenio said. “She has all the intangibles to be a great leader.”
Anctil said her first step next week will be to continue to meet people at Saint Rose to learn more about the needs of the school’s 19 athletic programs
“I’m going to do everything I can to equip the student-athletes and the coaches here with what they need to win championships,” Anctil said.
For the rest of this week? Anctil said her last day at Siena will likely be Thursday. She’d told her colleagues there Monday of her hiring at Saint Rose, and said her cell phone has constantly buzzed with text messages of support since word of her hire was made public on Monday.
“It’s been overwhelming,” Anctil said, “but it’s been amazing.”