Prairie native named to associate director post at WIAA

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Mel Dow

By Ted Pennekamp


The Wisconsin Interscholastic Athletic Association (WIAA) has announced the hiring of Mel Dow as an associate director. Dow will fill the position vacated by Deputy Director Wade Labecki, whose retirement becomes effective Sept. 1.

 “It is a humbling honor to have the opportunity to become a member of the executive team of the WIAA and serve the student-athletes and schools of Wisconsin,” Dow said.  “Educationally based athletics and providing valued experiences have been at the core of my career, and I am looking forward to growing with the WIAA.”

Dow’s responsibilities will include the administration, coordination of duties and tournament planning for the sports of baseball, wrestling, and tennis. Other administrative duties include eligibility, coaching contact, camps, out-of-season participation, foreign students, sanctioning requests, and leading respective sport responsibility coaches and 7% committees. He is scheduled to begin his position on Aug. 2.

“Mel’s passion, work ethic and vision for interscholastic athletics will enhance the service that our WIAA team provides to the member schools and student-athletes,” Executive Director Stephanie Hauser said. “I am confident that he will embrace this new challenge as an opportunity to make a positive difference, and we can’t wait to have him here on staff with us to roll up our sleeves and get to work.”

Dow has served as the athletics and activities director in the Stoughton School District since 2010. In addition to coordinating and administering the athletic programs and activities for grades 6-12, he supervised extensive athletic facility renovations and was a member of the Stoughton Wellness Coalition. He is credited with increasing sport participation and expanding programming during his tenure. He was also a member of committees for safety, additives, calendar and the selection of honors.

He has also made contributions at the state and national level, serving on the WIAA Sports Advisory Council from 2018-21, the WIAA Sportsmanship Committee from 2014-19 and on the Strategic Plan Committee of the Wisconsin Athletic Directors Association. Dow hosted and served as tournament director of the USA Wrestling World Team Trials in 2014 and 2015.


Prairie du Chien Years

Prior to his position at Stoughton, Dow spent 11 years at Prairie du Chien High School as a physical education and adaptive physical education teacher. He also served as head wrestling coach and as an assistant coach in football and track and field. Other contributions included developing a student-athlete leadership group and serving as advisor of the Letter Winners Club, chairman of the athletic booster club, and the project chairman and designer of the weight room project.

“My time at Prairie du Chien is where I was inspired to grow professionally,” said Dow. “It started while I was a student with the support from Mr. Howard and Mr. Mulrooney and again when I returned to teach/coach under Mr. Bark and Mr. Banasik. Each in their own way demonstrated leadership as an administrator with a passion for athletics that helped form a career path for me. They all cared deeply about people, strived for being the best version of themselves, and fully committed to the task at hand.

“During my professional years under Duane and Andy, they provided me the opportunities to test my skills while giving me the guidance I needed,” Dow continued. “These opportunities over a decade ago are still benefiting the students and community today and hopefully for years to come.” 

Other athletics-related experience includes founder and coach of Wisconsin’s first visually impaired national wrestling team in 1996-97, assistant wrestling coach at the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse in 1999-2000, and physical education teacher and assistant football, wrestling, and track and field coach at Rampart High School in Colorado Springs, Colo., from 1997-99.

Dow is 1992 graduate of Prairie du Chien High School, where he participated in football, track and field and wrestling. He earned a master’s degree in education from UW-La Crosse in 2002 after receiving a bachelor of science degree in exercise and sports science from there in 1997. He and his wife, Kristen, have one adult son, Tyler, 21, and 17-year-old twins, daughter Trista and son Trenton.

“The time in Prairie du Chien built a foundation of compassion for people, confidence, and work ethic that I look to help others across the state in the future,” said Dow.

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