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His mission: to get people moving

Frank Haege is Tiffin’s first recreation director
Frank Haege is Tiffin’s first recreation director. Haege, a native of Two Rivers, Wis., said his goal is to get people moving. (photo by Chris Umscheid)

TIFFIN– Frank Haege has a simple goal for the residents of Tiffin: “Get people moving.”
Haege is the city’s first recreation director, charged with researching, planning and implementing programmed inclusive activities for individuals and groups for the City of Tiffin at a recreational level. Or simply put, to get people moving.
Haege is a native of Two Rivers, Wis., who lived in Virginia, Minn., before attending the University of Wisconsin-Stout. He later earned a master’s degree from Bemidji State University (Bemidji, Minn). He was the head football coach at Augsburg University (Minneapolis, Minn.) for the Auggies from 2005-2019 and coached in the Arena Football League for a decade prior. Through word of mouth, he heard Tiffin was searching for a recreation director and applied.
“It’s a growing city, a new program and building (the proposed recreation center), and a chance to move my family to the Corridor, where my wife (Michelle Donovan, a Solon High School grad) is from,” he said.
City Administrator Doug Boldt said 54 applied for the position, narrowed down to 10 by a committee.
“We did Zoom interviews with those 10 to narrow it down to six,” Boldt said.
They were brought in for a tour of the city, a meet and greet with city staff, and an interview with a committee of four. One candidate dropped out before the scheduled interview, he noted.
“What we liked about Frank was his well-rounded background in recreation. He has an infectious positive, can-do attitude. Frank’s personality and energy is exactly what the committee felt would be perfect for this position,” Boldt said. “He is someone we thought could rally a lot of support for the programs the city wants to offer.”
Boldt explained the position is an important one as the community continues to grow.
“Currently there are no recreation programs under the umbrella of the city council,” he said. “The city would like to start offering those programs to the community’s youth and provide additional recreational opportunities that were previously unavailable because the city had no one to organize, coordinate and run the program.”
The new recreation center, once built, will be the focal point of the city’s programming and located in City Park near the ball fields. The design is mostly set for a gym, walking track, and fitness center. Haege said his input would be how each room is set up to best serve the residents, a task he does not take lightly recognizing the importance of the facility.
“It could really be the heartbeat of the city,” he said, “A place to enjoy recreation formally and informally.”
The city continues to gather information on the operational costs of a facility both with and without a pool. The city council met with the Clear Creek Amana (CCA) Community School District regarding the possibility of a cost sharing agreement for a competition-sized pool, however no agreement has been finalized. One plan for the recreation center includes a much smaller community-sized pool and Boldt noted the council expressed the thought of perhaps building the facility without a pool, making it a later addition.
While all Tiffin parks (including the dog park) are closed, Haege noted, “There is a lot of open space out there for people to walk, jog, bike, scooter, etc. Get some games going with the people you are living with, it’s a great time for one-on-one basketball, horse, in the backyard. Throw around the Frisbee, baseball, whiffle ball, all the stuff we did as kids in ‘the old days!’”
Haege’s first day on the job was Monday, April 13, and he said, “I am really looking forward to working with all of the existing recreational groups in the area.”