The 2018-19 season was historic in many ways for the Badger Region Volleyball Association.
Right in the middle of the 25th anniversary of the Badger Region, Commissioner Julie Voeck stepped aside from the position she had for the previous decade.
“There are so many great talents in the Region, that I know during this transition that the Region would not miss a beat,” said the Wauwatosa resident.
There were a number of things that helped her make the decision when she did, including being chosen to be Chair of the Rules Commission at USA Volleyball, a position once held by former Badger Region leaders Neill Luebke (original commissioner) and Pati Rolf (longtime board member, coach and Badger Region official).
Voeck is also President of the Professional Association of Volleyball Officials.
“I have such a passion for officiating, that the timing was right to focus on those,” she said.
The move also allowed two other deserving individuals the chance to be better recognized for all they bring to the Region, Voeck said.
With Voeck departure, former Director of Operations Jennifer Armson-Dyer was promoted to Executive Director and Badger Region Commissioner.
“Jen was not fully appreciated for what she brought to the Region, the RVA (Regional Volleyball Association) and to USA Volleyball,” Voeck said. “This move legitimizes all that, which is really important to me.”
She also pointed to the appointment of Jim Momsen to the position of Badger Region President as another sign of having excellent leaders in the state of Wisconsin.
“Really, the time to do this was perfect,” she said. “Jim Momsen will do a great job.”
Voeck emerged first in the Badger Region as, in her own words, “a mediocre player.”
“I would play in tournament at UW-Parkside, and I was bad,” she said. “And whenever it was our turn to ref at these adult tournaments, my team always made me do it because they said I was good at it.”
Along the way to becoming an accomplished official, Voeck would meet fellow referee Dale Rohde.
“Dale became my idol and mentor while I was officiating,” Voeck said. The two of them became lifelong friends and would receive their National Referee ratings together later in their careers.
Losing Rohde to cancer in 2014 was difficult for Voeck and all of the Wisconsin volleyball community, which is why Voeck is very proud that the Region continues to carry on his legacy in the form of the Dale Rohde Memorial Boys Volleyball Tournament hosted every spring.
Many other accomplishments
While growing the number of boys volleyball teams in Wisconsin is a huge accomplishment on Voeck’s resume, her tenure as commissioner of the Region saw many other big changes.
“I was super proud of our Region when we moved the office to Pewaukee and made ourselves accessible to all of our members and really showed that we wanted to offer a great customer service experience,” Voeck said.
Under Voeck’s leadership, the Region has grown to be the 10th biggest among the 40 Regions of USA Volleyball and employs five full time staff members.
“Having great workers look to us to be a secure place to work really legitimizes that we are doing a lot of great things as a Region.”
She said she is proud how the Region has become a barometer for how other Regions communicate, use social media, structure their website and establish policies.
“Our staff responds to anything our coaches, players, club directors, parents, you name it throw at them,” she said.
Culturally, Voeck said Wisconsin is ripe for continued success on many levels of the sports.
“There is opportunity for coaches, for athletes, for colleges, for everyone to participate in this sport is huge,” she said. “We have well-rounded involvement in all things volleyball. And it’s wonderful that we have such an influence on the volleyball community with great players, and officials coming out of Wisconsin.”
Some of those opportunities were about being in the right place at the right time, Voeck said.
“Anything I chose to do, I wanted to do it well,” Voeck said. “When the opportunity comes around, do your best, and you may get additional opportunities. You just have to be open to the opportunities, and I think I did that.”
Great people doing great things
Another of Voeck’s mentor was Region founder Neill Luebke. Voeck said he would quiz her about the size of the court or have other trivia questions ready to go every time they met.
“He taught me that you can’t settle for mediocre and that I shouldn’t do just enough to get by. I needed to be the best student in class,” she said.
It was his vision that helped her shape her vision of the Region.
Wisconsin, she said, has been fortunate over the past 25 to have had so many great role models emerge for fellow athletes, coaches and officials to mirror to be successful.
“You can’t be what you can’t see,” Voeck said. “If you can’t picture what you want or who you want to model yourself after, you might not find the right pathway for the future.”