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Sixers hire Annelie Schmittel as new VP of Player Development

NBA: Philadelphia 76ers-Press Conference Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

According to a press release by the Philadelphia 76ers, the organization has hired Annelie Schmittel as Vice President of Player Development:

PHILADELPHIA – JAN. 8, 2019 – The Philadelphia 76ers announced today the hiring of Annelie Schmittel. In her new role as 76ers Vice President of Player Development, Schmittel will be responsible for creating, managing and overseeing the holistic development and implementation of programs that support the professional and personal growth of 76ers players, staff and families.

With nearly a decade of experience in athlete development, Schmittel joins the team after spending the last three seasons with the Oakland Raiders. Also boasting experience working with NCAA Division I and II collegiate athletes, Schmittel is a proven leader with an unparalleled passion for maximizing players’ athletic and personal growth, on and off the court. Under Schmittel’s creative leadership and innovative mindset, the 76ers will continue to augment on-court progress with off-court development and strive to help players balance on-court priorities and personal responsibilities.

Schmittel seems to be an up-and-comer rather than a re-tread — according to her LinkedIn page, she was working as a news intern at WKBT in Wisconsin less than 10 years ago, and only started working in professional sports in 2016 with the Oakland Raiders. But she is unquestionably experienced in the world of athletics. Schmittel was a member of the Winona State University Track and Field team (where she also served as a student-athlete advisor for a year after graduating). She holds a masters degree in sports management and completed the Executive Education program in the NFL Business Academy at the University of Michigan. Schmittel also has a PhD in mass communication and media studies, which isn’t necessarily sports related, but is impressive nonetheless.

Judging by her previous work, it sounds like Schmittel will be tasked with helping Sixers players grow not only on the court, but off the court as well (or maybe specifically). While with the Raiders, Schmittel headed up programs such as the Raiders Family Boot Camp and the Rookie Academy (“a transitional program for all drafted and undrafted players that specializes in the professional development into the NFL from college, both on and off the field” per the press release announcing Schmittel’s hire). When you consider Schmittel’s beginnings (student-athlete advisor), studies and recent professional achievements, she seems to be the perfect candidate for the sort of mission she’s been hired to fulfill.

Schmittel’s responses in a recent interview with ESPN’s Ramona Shelburne only further testifies to Schmittel’s ability to understand and relate to professional athletes:

espnW: Is there a specific player you’ve worked with whom you’re really proud of?

AS: Bruce Irvin is probably a great one to feature. Bruce came from the [Seattle] Seahawks to the Raiders. When he came to us, he had this rough-around-the-edges image. He walked that walk where people distanced themselves [from him].

I would just always tell him, “I see you for so much more than the player that you are. You are a great player, but I know that you want to do more than just play football.”

So, we got him back into school. He graduated from West Virginia. He became the Walter Payton Man of the Year nominee last year for the Oakland Raiders. He just bought into the process of wanting to be more than an athlete and wanting to do better for his son and his family. We spent a lot of time together building the plan.

This is a forward-thinking move by the Sixers in a few ways. First of all, they’ve hired a woman to be in a position of executive power in an industry typically dominated by men. Next, the hire is one of youth: Schmittel finished her undergraduate studies in 2009, and her masters in 2012. And last, the Sixers are bringing in personnel to focus on more than just the X’s and O’s, going deeper into understanding the person behind the athlete — a positive trend that is becoming more widespread in sports in general.

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