With the conclusion of another year of the Badger Region Championships, I was asked to give some feedback on the tournament, but from what perspective do the readers of this article want it to be reflective of? My perspective can be as a Badger Region Board Member, junior club director, coach, official, or as a parent? The Badger Region Championships is a tournament that wears many hats and fills many voids for the volleyball community in Wisconsin.
The Championships are a great tournament for our girls, boys, and adult teams from the entire state. We get to see teams/clubs at the Badger Region Championships from the far reaches of the state that we don’t get to see compete anywhere else in our seasons, and at the same time we get to see our friends/colleagues/classmates from nearby clubs that we have played with/against before.
For many regional teams the Badger Region Championships is the biggest tournament of the year for them. It may be an overnight travel tournament or possibly it is the finale of a four month club season and for these teams the Championships is the tournament that hopefully will be talked about as the highlight to the season.
For our state’s national teams that are more used to traveling and multi-day events, it can be a somewhat local event and a good mid-season test to see how they are stacking up with other Wisconsin clubs/teams that they will continue to compete with and against over the next three months.
In our region we have competitive teams at all the different ages and levels of experience, so with the tournament now offering two or three divisions in many age groups, it gives most of our teams a chance to experience success at the Championships regardless if they are a young regional team or an experienced national team.
The Badger Region Championships also provides a great venue and opportunity for the state’s High Performance programs to have their tryouts, by running the evaluation practices on the Friday nights prior to the start of the tournament weekend players have the opportunity to be coached by some great coaches and for those selected an opportunity to represent our state nationally at the summer’s HP championships.
The Championships are a great environment to see how the progress of our players and teams are coming, but also for our Region’s officials it serves as both weekends to renew friendships with colleagues and also to get training and evaluation to see how we as ref’s are progressing and advancing within our field. Our Region has done a good job of improving the overall level of our officials in the past few years and continues to strive to improve mechanically and technically with the men/women in the official’s shirts/navy pants/white shoes.
My final perspective of the Badger Region Championships comes as a parent. The parents are the backbone of club volleyball in our Region and from this perspective the Championships are a local tournament at a great venue that provides not only a good volleyball environment, but also a weekend in Milwaukee to enjoy all the city has to offer such as a Bucks game, a trip to the museum or theater, or at least a meal at one of its great restaurants.
So hopefully you have some fond memories, as I do, from the Badger Region Championships of this past year and possibly even of years gone past.
I know I have a lot of them from over the years and in many different roles that I have been fortunate enough to be in, and I’m also looking forward to more great memories to come in years ahead.
My name is Kelly Lehman and I am in my third term as a board member of the Badger Region.
In the mid-1980s, I was a player, picking up the game a little in high school. Although we didn’t have a boys team, I loved watching and learning the game. A threesport athlete in high school, I soon found myself in college playing more and more volleyball. I think at my peak I was playing in three leagues a week and most weekends in tournaments.
I loved the speed and teamwork of the game. From playing the game, I was led into coaching the game. Starting out as a freshman girls coach in 1989, then moving from high school to club coaching and eventually taking both girls and boys teams to play in the USA, JVA, and AAU national championships. In 1999, the game took another turn for me, I became a father and after a few years my little girl started to want to pepper and practice serving.
I have followed her and my son to courts all across the nation to watch them play this great game and see volleyball from the bleachered side of the court. In 2003, I became a full time club director, and yet again I learned more and more about the game, the people, and the teamwork.
Not only the teamwork amongst six players as you learn as a player and as a coach, but teamwork of an entire club and volleyball community. And somewhere along the line I took up refereeing which for any of you that haven’t officiated, if you want a real challenge in volleyball — take a try behind the whistle, and see how it’s not as easy as we all thought it was as a player, parent, and/or coach. After 12 years as a player, 26 years as a coach, eight years as a volleyball parent, 17 years as an official, and 13 years as a club director here is a summary of what I have learned:
1) Volleyball is an AMAZING sport.
It’s not just about the elite players/teams/clubs, but it’s amazing for everyone. From the smallest of volley tots, to the 60+ year old teams; from the U-10’s playing 4’s in mini-tournaments to the 18 Open division at nationals; from the outdoor sand and grass courts to the hardwood or sport court gyms; from the USA Olympic teams to the adults playing at summer parties. All of it is just unforgettable, priceless, entertainment and pure fun for all.
2) Volleyball can be enjoyed from many viewing angles. It’s entertaining to watch on TV. It’s great to see it live in-person from the sidelines or bleachers as a parent or just as a general fan of the game or the team. It’s exciting to be in the referee stand and watching from a purely technical standpoint, watching the crispness of the contacts and body control to keep the ball and themselves in bounds and out of the net. And although I don’t play much anymore, I still remember the great adrenaline and excitement of putting everything into a day of play to try to come out on top.
Why am I a Badger Region Board Member and lifelong volleyball enthusiast? I love to provide the volleyball opportunity for people. The opportunity that I was lucky to find and explore in the last 25+ years.
The opportunity to learn the game as a player, and feel the intensity of playing the game, the opportunity to take that passion from the court to the sideline as a coach trying to take players to a higher level, the opportunity for parents to feel the pride that only a parent can feel as their children find success in a sport they love to play, and the opportunity as an administrator to bring all of it to a large number of people by providing venues, events, tryouts, and practices so that they all can know the absolute awesomeness of volleyball.