Deputy Director Wade Labecki announced his retirement from the Wisconsin Interscholastic Athletic Association, effective on Aug. 31, 2021, to the Board of Control and Executive Staff on Wednesday.
“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. “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 assumed the Deputy Director position on 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.
Most recently, Labecki has been credited in working with the WIAA Sports Medical Advisory Committee and other health officials to effectively navigate the membership through the COVID-19 pandemic. He assisted in the development and communication of mitigation guidelines, which permitted interscholastic athletics to restart and continue during the pandemic.
Among his many contributions to the membership, Labecki has provided guidance and leadership in the development and implementation of the 8-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. In addition, he has worked extensively on legislative and litigious efforts of the association, and he has collaborated with the Department of Public Instruction on numerous initiatives contained in the Pupil Non-Discrimination Guidelines for Athletics.
In his position, he has also 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 also been influential in the administration of interscholastic athletics and football at the national level. He has served as a member 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,” Executive Director Dave Anderson said. “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 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 them 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 is 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 (Minn.) in 2001 and received a Doctorate in Educational Leadership degree at Argosy University-Twin Cities in 2010. Labecki was also 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.
The WIAA, as defined by its Constitution, is a voluntary, unincorporated, and nonprofit organization. The membership oversees interscholastic athletic programs for 515 senior high schools and 48 junior high/middle level schools in its membership.