Government

Tiffin's first recreation director excited to 'get in on the ground floor'

Frank Haege moves from arena football to launching sports programs for city

Tiffin recreation director Frank Haege poses for a photo Wednesday at City Park in Tiffin. Haege, who has coached colleg
Tiffin recreation director Frank Haege poses for a photo Wednesday at City Park in Tiffin. Haege, who has coached college and arena football, is the growing city’s first recreation director. (Andy Abeyta/The Gazette)

TIFFIN — Frank Haege is used to building things from the ground up.

He first did it as an arena football coach, leading the Quad City Steamwheelers to an undefeated season. Next up is leading Tiffin’s recreation program as the city’s first recreation director.

“I decided it was a great opportunity to get in on the ground floor, be able to start from scratch,” said Haege, 51.

A native of Virginia, Minn., Haege’s career has taken place on the gridiron. He has had head coaching positions with the Quad City Steamwheelers and Las Vegas Gladiators arena football teams, as well as the Augsburg University Auggies. During his 15 years at Augsburg, Haege led the team to 57 victories, the second most in the program’s history.

Now, Haege said he’s ready to try something new.

“I set my sights on the recreation world,” he said. “I’m excited to start a new chapter in my life and my career in the recreation world.”

There are no city-run recreation programs such as football, basketball or soccer in Tiffin, Iowa’s fastest-growing community. That will change under Haege.

He started this past week, and said his strategy will be to figure out what Tiffin already has to offer in terms of club sports. He also plans to see what nearby communities such as Tipton and Solon offer to their residents. From there, Haege said he hopes to “fill the gaps” in terms of youth sports.

But Haege said he has more than just children in mind when it comes to recreation. He also plans to create inclusive adult activities, such as an open gym with adults doing activities on one court and children doing activities on another.

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“I definitely want to do some multigenerational stuff,” said Haege, adding he wants to build a culture of “being active, being involved” in Tiffin.

Of course, to do some of that programming, Haege will need a place to do it. He said Tiffin still is working hard toward building its own recreation facility, with plans for that building to open in 2022.

As a former football coach, Haege said he is used to handling facilities and a budget, as well as finding a role for everyone. He wants Tiffin’s recreation program to be as inclusive as possible.

Haege describes himself as an active person who enjoys coaching youth athletics.

“I’m passionate about being active, and I get to do that for a profession,” he said. “That’s pretty great.”

Comments: (319) 339-3155; lee.hermiston@thegazette.com

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