Jennifer Armson-Dyer and Jim Momsen share many of the same views on volleyball, the Badger Region and the state of affairs in the sport.
And, in case anyone was wondering, both agreed they don’t want to see the sport go back to old-school, sideout scoring.
“Never,” Momsen said. “With sideout scoring, matches would last forever. I attended a few matches where neither team scored a point for 20 minutes.”
A lot has happened in the Badger Region Volleyball Association over the course of the past 25 years; the change to rally scoring being one of them.
But there are have been a lot of changes and growth that both Armson-Dyer and Momsen said have defined the Region.
“The opportunities we offer to our members and the collaborations with other regions and other organizations, is something that we do really well and why I think we are viewed as a leader,” Armson-Dyer said.
And that growth hasn’t just happened overnight.
Armson-Dyer started as a player in the Region in the mid-1990s.
“As a player, you know that there are other clubs around you, but you really don’t know what is going on in a larger sense,” she said.
But since taking on a role as staff member in 2009, she is more than excited to talk about the growth of the Region and that many changes that have taken place during her tenure, including how in February she was promoted to Executive Director and Commission of the Badger Region.
When asked at separate times “how they would describe the people who make up the Badger Region,” both Momsen and Armson-Dyer responded with the word “passionate.”
Said Momsen: “The people who make up Badger Region are passionate about volleyball and not afraid to tackle difficult challenges to make sure we are doing the right thing to make the experience better for everyone.”
Said Armson-Dyer: “Passionate and fun-loving. From the staff to the board who give up a lot of their time to do what is right for the sport, and looking at the Region as a whole, there are a lot of dedicated people who are in the sport and doing it for the right reasons.”
But the Region’s success has not been without some hiccups along the way. And there are many more to come, that is for sure.
“We are at a crossroads with behavior,” Armson-Dyer said. “And in the hypersensitive society we live in, there is a tendency to want to blame someone other than ourselves.”
As Board President and an accomplished official, Momsen talked about the shortages we face when it comes to qualified coaches and referees.
“Great growth in membership has resulted in difficulty scaling up to handle increases in various issues including shortage of qualified coaches and officials, and an increase in the number of poor sportsmanship issues from coaches and spectators.”
Issues like that face many sports, but what is unique to the Wisconsin volleyball scene is the literal landscape that we face in the Badger Region with such a separation between rural and urban centers.
“Finding ways to get other groups in the sports – inner city and rural – is something we have to face to show that this is not just an elite-person’s sport. We are working on ways to get all demographics involved” Armson-Dyer said.
Both Armson-Dyer and Momsen offer some thoughts on a variety of topics as they looked back on the 25 years of the Badger Region, and are excited about the continued expansion and strength Wisconsin brings to the table on many of the topics discussed including:
Indoor girls volleyball in the Region
Momsen: Growing and getting better and better!
Armson-Dyer: Growing especially at the youth and younger levels. The sheer joy they elicit encompasses what the sport is all about.
Indoor boys volleyball in the Region
Momsen: After trying to cultivate boys volleyball in the Badger Region for the last five to 10 years, we have seen exponential growth of the boys game within Wisconsin during the last three years. Also, we have seen many high schools and colleges adding programs. Wisconsin has some of the top NCAA Men’s Div. III programs in the country.
Armson-Dyer: This makes me so happy to see all the young boys from our Region going on to be successful at the next level.
Collegiate volleyball in the Region
Momsen: Three of the four Women’s Div. I programs (Wisconsin, Marquette, and UW-Green Bay) made it into the NCAA tournament in 2018! In Women’s Div. III, Wisconsin has a bunch of top-rate programs. UW-Eau Claire lost in the national semi-finals.
Armson-Dyer: I’m proud of the growth and sustainability of the Wisconsin Volleyball Conference and also the strength of the Wisconsin programs in the NCAA and NAIA.
Beach/sand volleyball in the Region
Momsen: Due to the short Beach season in Wisconsin, it’s been difficult to get this ball rolling. I anticipate interest will grow, especially since a number of NCAA schools are starting beach volleyball programs.
Armson-Dyer: It’s an emerging sport that we have an opportunity for growth in, and showing people that yes, Wisconsin does have a summer.
Officials in the Region
Momsen: Recruiting enough new volleyball referees continues to be a challenge. Many new referees don’t last past the three-year mark, for various reasons including unruly spectators and coaches. People must understand quality referees do not grow on trees and it takes a number of years to understand and apply the rules in a consistent manner. Some want to advance, and others are happy where they are. We need all of them as the sport grows. Badger Region does a great job of recruiting, training, and advancing referees, but we need more candidates to work with.
Armson-Dyer: We have some REALLY passionate people who understand that their role in the sport is critical to the experience, and we have some good, young officials who take that to heart.
Badger Region within USA Volleyball
Momsen: Badger Region is very fortunate to have had great leadership in its first 25 years. This is recognized by USAV and demonstrated by current and former Badger Region individuals working within USA Volleyball in various capacities – Director, Officials Development; Chair, USAV Rules Commission; High Performance Coaches; National Teams Coaches; etc..
Armson-Dyer: We are a leader in programming and communication and it makes me feel really good to know that other regions are coming to us – a younger region – for consultation on best practices as it pertains to running a region.