WIAA deputy director Wade Labecki has announced his retirement.
Labecki announced his decision, which is effective Aug. 31, to the WIAA Board of Control and executive staff on Wednesday. His retirement was announced through a WIAA release on Thursday.
WIAA executive director Dave Anderson also is retiring this summer. Assistant director Stephanie Hauser has been named as the next executive director. Hauser and Labecki were among the four finalists for the executive director job.
The WIAA is seeking an assistant director to fill Hauser’s spot. Another spot now opens on the executive staff with Labecki’s retirement.
“I am extremely grateful to have had the opportunity to work in high school athletics during my entire career, and the opportunity to work at the WIAA has been a great experience and very rewarding,” Labecki said in the release. “Providing opportunities for kids -- especially during a pandemic -- and creating, refining and supervising state championship tournaments; meeting great people working for kids; and traveling the state and country have been gratifying.”
Labecki took over as deputy director July 1, 2009.
He has been responsible for student-athlete eligibility, interpretation of all association rules, tournament planning, and committee leadership in the sports of football, wrestling, and baseball, as well as the Sports Medicine Advisory Committee.
Recently, Labecki has been credited working with the WIAA Sports Medical Advisory Committee and other health officials to effectively navigate the WIAA membership through the COVID-19 pandemic, according to the release from WIAA communications director Todd Clark.
Labecki assisted in the development and communication of mitigation guidelines, which permitted interscholastic athletics to restart and continue during the pandemic.
Labecki has provided guidance and leadership in the development and implementation of the eight-player football tournament, sponsorship and a tournament opportunity for girls wrestling, football-only conference realignment, concussion and football acclimatization policies and protocols, pitch-count limits in baseball and bringing Wisconsin into compliance with NFHS rules in wrestling.
He has worked extensively on legislative and litigious efforts of the association. He has collaborated with the state Department of Public Instruction on initiatives contained in the pupil non-discrimination guidelines for athletics.
He has served as a member of the Wisconsin Department of Justice Office of School Safety Advisory Committee since 2018 and on the editorial board of Referee Magazine since 2015.
Labecki has been influential in the administration of interscholastic athletics and football at the national level.
He has served on several National Federation of State High School Associations committees, including the Football Rules Committee since 2009; the Football Risk Management Committee from 2018-21, of which he served as vice-chairman; the Football Rules Editorial Committee from 2013-16; and the Hall of Fame Committee in 2021.
“The contributions made by Dr. Labecki have been substantial and immeasurable,” said WIAA executive director Dave Anderson, who is retiring effective in July. “He has been a strong defender of this membership’s rules and provisions, and for the invisible and unnamed student-athlete. His contributions at both the state and national levels will be missed.”
Prior to joining the WIAA executive staff, Labecki was elected to the WIAA Advisory Council in October, 2008.
Other professional-related memberships include the National Interscholastic Athletic Administrators Association, Wisconsin Athletic Directors Association, Wisconsin Football Coaches Association, where he served on the Board of Directors and as president, and he served on the Board of Directors of the Wisconsin High School Forensics Coaches Association.
Labecki has received a number of professional honors and awards during his career.
Among the honors and awards was his induction into the Wisconsin Football Coaches Association Hall of Fame in 2008 and his selection to coach in the 2000 Shrine Football All-Star game.
He was chosen as the WFCA District coach of the year in 1988 and 1992. In 2009, Labecki was named the WADA District 1 athletic director of the year.
Labecki’s 22-year career in education at Baldwin-Woodville High School included teacher, assistant administrator and transportation director at Baldwin-Woodville High School from 2006-09 and as athletic director from 2000-09.
He served as head football coach from 1988-2004 and led the Blackhawks to a state championship in 1992, a state runner-up finish in 1994 and five conference titles.
He coached the baseball team to two conference championships and a state tournament appearance in 1991.
He was a 1987 graduate of the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire with a Bachelor of Science degree in Comprehensive Business Education.
He received a Masters of Education in Administration degree from St. Mary's University (Minnesota) in 2001 and received a Doctorate in Educational Leadership degree at Argosy University-Twin Cities in 2010.
Labecki was the recipient of the 2010 President’s Leadership Award for students in the doctoral program at Argosy University.
His doctoral dissertation was entitled, Athletic Competitive Equity and Proportionality: Classification of High Schools in State Athletic Associations for Boys Basketball and Football Tournament Placement.