This article appeared in the May 11, 2017, Badger Beacon

Each year, I get the opportunity to be a part of the following scene: Walking into the Wisconsin Center, I see the view of 32 empty courts soon to be filled with some of the top young volleyball talent that our state has to offer. The hundreds of athletes from all over the state, from both big and small clubs, come to the registration desk with nervous anticipation. Warm-ups start, and the normal sounds of volleyball fill the air as the coaching staff goes over court assignments. I blow my whistle and am quickly surrounded by the athletes who cannot wait to get started. Their energy is infectious, and I am excited to see what they all can do on the court. This is the yearly scene at our Badger Region High Performance tryouts. It is only a short three-hour process, but I love the determination and athleticism shown by all of the athletes wanting to be a part of our HP program.

What is the High Performance program? USA Volleyball started the HP program as a pipeline for top athletes nationally to feed into the national teams. The Region programs are a supplemental training program in conjunction with USA Volleyball to offer top level volleyball training to our best athletes.

Our Badger HP program has three components: the tryout, the HP Training Camp, and the High Performance Championships. At each of these events, our goal is to make it the best volleyball experience the athletes can have. The Badger HP tryouts took place back in March resulting in 60 girls and 18 boys having the opportunity to attend the High Performance Camps. These camps give the athletes access to high level training by some very experienced coaches from top college and club programs across the state. This year, the boys trained recently at the Milwaukee Sting Center and Carthage College, and the girls camp will be at the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay in July. These training camps are rigorous in their pace and challenge with the additional pressure of trying to make the Region traveling team. From the camps, 10 athletes are selected to represent the Badger Region at the High Performance Championships, this year held in Fort Lauderdale, Fla.
The High Performance Championship is a fun, unique atmosphere where every team is talented and forces us to raise the level of our games to compete for the gold medals. International teams are also invited to attend the tournament adding another level of intrigue to the competition. In the past several years, our teams have played against teams from Chile, the Dominican Republic, Mexico, New Zealand, and Peru. The Badger Region has earned a reputation as one of the top Regional programs in the country. Over the past eight years, our teams have won a bunch of medals (4 Gold, 1 Silver, and 6 Bronze).

While winning is always fun, the overall HP experience is much more rewarding. I love talking with HP alumni who have become lifelong friends with teammates who they never met before their HP experience. It is great to see them grow in the game and head into their college volleyball careers and beyond. Several of them have started coaching in our Badger HP program, giving back to the young athletes and sharing their experiences.

As we head into another summer of Badger HP, I am happy to add more athletes/coaches into our Badger HP family. They are wonderful ambassadors to what the Badger Region is all about —great volleyball and great people.


This article appeared in the Dec. 8, 2016, Badger Beacon

My name is Paul Schlomer, and I am the Southwest Representative to the Badger Region Board of Directors. I have been on the Board for the past 10 years. I am also the head coach at Edgewood College in Madison (for 11 years), the Chair of the Badger Region Girls’ High Performance program (for 7 years), and a coach with the Wisconsin Select Volleyball Club (for 15 years). Needless to say, I have a passion for all volleyball throughout the state of Wisconsin.

This time of year is one of my favorites. I am always a bit sad to come to the end of my college season.

That is why I love the start of club season and the new adventure with a new team working to help them become the best athletes they can be. Club volleyball is great for so many reasons.

First and foremost, we get to coach and play a sport that is so fun. We get to meet new friends from all over the state and compete at the highest level possible. We get to learn from and be pushed by strong coaches and teammates. I also want to challenge everyone to relish all of the learning and growth opportunities that happen in the tougher side of club volleyball. How will we handle losses on the court? How will we react when our individual progress stalls or we get beat out for a starting position on our team? What will we do when an official makes calls that we do not agree with? What will we do when teammates may not always be focused on team success?

Sometimes club volleyball can be a real grind. But I truly believe that we all become better athletes and people through the challenging aspects of sport and competition. Winning on the court is always fun. Championship trophies or medals are great mementos.

But the most valuable part of club volleyball are the life-lessons learned and the memories made that will last far longer than this club season. Parents should strive to reinforce these learning opportunities with their kids.

Coaches should work to guide their athletes through these struggles. Athletes should learn to love the ups and downs of the process and learn how to be a great person and teammate and not just a great player. That is how we can have a truly great club season, regardless of how many wins our teams might get.

Finally, I want to encourage all of our athletes to consider getting involved in the Badger Region’s High Performance program. It is a place where we can truly bring together the best athletes in the state and train for the love of the sport at the very highest level. There have been so many driven, talented, passionate, and fun athletes and coaches that have come through our program over the years.

Hopefully you want to come and be a part of it. Look for information about tryouts on the Region website. Also feel free to let me know if you have any questions. I always love talking about volleyball!

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