A lot of responsibilities fell on the plate of the Badger Region’s first executive director Jenny Hahn during the early years of the organization.
How much, you ask?
“I knew it was time to hire more staff when I missed a meeting in Colorado Springs because I didn’t know what day of the week it was,” said the Wauwatosa resident.
Hahn accepted every responsibility she was given and wanted to make sure it was done correctly. When she was offered the opportunity to be the first director of the Region, she didn’t hesitate at taking the chance.
“Our first commissioner Neill Luebke always said, ‘If you can handle it, do it,’” Hahn recalled. “So, I did, but it just got to be too much.”
For many years, the Badger Region was based out of the home of Jenny Hahn, vice president of Milwaukee Sting Volleyball Club. The Region required space in her home office, part of a bedroom, a corner of her garage and the better part of her basement, she said.
Hahn remembered a time before high-speed internet was fast commonplace, she would have two computers running side by side so that when one computer was dialing up the World Wide Web, she could be typing up forms or documents on the other.
All of this dedication to the Region was an effort to make it easier for clubs to see the benefits of joining the Badger Region Volleyball Association early on, she said.
“I knew that the easier we (the Region) made it for clubs to jump on board, they would,” Hahn said.
Starts with the kids
The vision of what the Badger Region was to become was the brainchild of a small number of adult coaches, officials and directors in Wisconsin. And the motivation of all of these individuals was to support the athletes.
“The Region has always done a great job of promoting the right things, and that starts with the juniors,” Hahn said. “The Region has always been very progressive and at the same time very adaptable to what is going in and around it.”
As part of the Region’s first board of directors, Hahn said one of the original goals of the Region was to pull the whole state together so that its teams, clubs and coaches would not have to rely on Illinois to provide the services that are part of everything the Badger Region now does.
“We wanted better customer service for our clubs to be successful,” Hahn said. “Our priority was to help clubs get started because they had the most interaction with the kids.”
When the Badger Region expanded to a true office located at 72nd and Center streets in Milwaukee, staff was hired to assist in that mission of provided the best customer experience.
“Adding staff meant we could do more things and have more service – answering the phones, handling emails, helping run clinics and doing training for the clubs to better serve their customers.”
Some of the other accomplishments that Hahn said she was proud the Region accomplished over the years included starting Wisconsin’s own High Performance program.
“Giving kids the opportunity to train alongside other all-stars from the state was a big thing for me,” Hahn said. “It meant that kids could train at a high level more locally and at less cost.”
The growth of club volleyball also meant conflicts emerged with the Wisconsin Interscholastic Athletic Association (WIAA) that Hahn had to confront.
“We didn’t always see eye to eye, but we made some progress so that our two groups could continue to grow and operate.”
She also credits the Region’s board for seeing the bigger picture.
“The Board of Directors was very helpful and very flexible early on and came from a variety of different backgrounds,” she said. “They respected the talents of the people they had in place and so did I. Jen Armson-Dyer and Jen Schwalbach (both of whom worked for Hahn) meant so much to what we were doing.”
Hahn now serves as the executive director of the Junior Volleyball Association, but does not take her time with the Region for granted.
“I am very proud of everything the Region has done over the years,” she said. “I look forward to seeing what they come up with next.”