STEVE SCHMITT – OWNER
Schmitt’s passion for the game and extraordinary attention to customer service are two big reasons why Mallards baseball has become a summertime mainstay in Madison. Since 2001 the Mallards have made the playoffs seven times, including Northwoods League Championships in 2004 and 2013, and appearances in the Championship Series in 2005 & 2008. Schmitt’s teams have accumulated 482 regular season wins since the franchise’s inception and have finished at-least in the top-half of the division standings for every year but two. Also the owner of the Shoe Box and Rookies Sports Bar in Black Earth, WI, Steve is actively involved in the community and is a huge St. Louis Cardinals fan. He is also the owner of the Wisconsin Rapids Rafters, Kenosha Kingfish, and Green Bay Bullfrogs, all of the Northwoods League.
VERN STENMAN – PRESIDENT
As the President of Big Top Baseball Vern’s role includes management and part ownership of the Madison Mallards, Wisconsin Rapids Rafters, Kenosha Kingfish and Green Bay Bullfrogs of the Northwoods League. He also oversees management of Breese Stevens Field and Festival Foods Shake the Lake. Stenman, the 2003 and 2005 Northwoods League Executive of the Year, is entering his nineteenth season in the NWL. His innovative promotional ideas and steady vision have contributed to the Mallards consistently ranking in the top 25 in attendance in all of Minor League Baseball. He has helped draw over 200,000 fans per year from 2006 through 2015. Prior to Madison he was an intern and later Assistant GM for the St. Cloud River Bats from before taking a position with the NHL’s Minnesota Wild for a year. Stenman and wife Kallie have two children, daughter Chloe Mae (8), and son Bode (4) and live in Madison. He is originally from St. Cloud, MN.
CONOR CALOIA – CHIEF OPERATING OFFICER
As the COO of Big Top Baseball and along with President Vern Stenman, Conor oversees the Madison Mallards, Wisconsin Rapids Rafters, Kenosha Kingfish and Green Bay Bullfrogs of the Northwoods League. He also oversees management of Breese Stevens Field and Festival Foods Shake the Lake. After starting as a public relations intern with the Mallards in 2003 and operations manager in 2004, Caloia served as the Assistant General Manager for two seasons. In 2006, he moved to Denver to work for the Western Athletic Conference as the Director of Marketing with responsibilities for marketing, branding and promotional campaigns for the Division I conference. Following his stint with the WAC, Caloia served as the Director of Operations for the Wilmington Sharks of the Coastal Plains League. Under his leadership the Sharks hosted the 2009 CPL All-Star Game and were named the 2009 CPL Organization of the Year. He returned to Madison in December of 2009 as General Manager of the Mallards and was named the Northwoods League Executive of the Year in 2011. In addition to his responsibilities with the Mallards, Caloia was involved in the founding of the Kenosha Kingfish in 2013 and the acquisition of the Green Bay Bullfrogs in 2013. In addition to his responsibilities with the Mallards, Caloia is on the Board of Directors of the Boys and Girls Club of Dane County. He is a graduate of the University of Wisconsin-Madison with a B.A. in Journalism and a focus on Strategic Communication. Caloia received his M.B.A. from the UW-Madison in May of 2013. He lives with his wife Rachel, daughter Ella, and son Keegan in Madison. He is originally from St. Charles, IL.
LIZ KERN – BIG TOP BASEBALL VICE PRESIDENT
Liz Kern started working for the Madison Mallards in 2004 as a game day employee. She was invited back each season after that and continued to expand her roles until she took on a full time position in 2007. In 2007 she became the Customer Service and Box Office Manager. In 2010 Liz was promoted to General Manager of the Wisconsin Rapids Rafters, making her the first female GM in Northwoods League history. After four successful and fun season in Wis Rapids, Liz moved to Green Bay to be the GM for the fourth team to be added to the newly named Big Top Baseball. In 2016, after 11 years with the organization, Liz moved back to Madison and is now the Vice President of Big Top Baseball. In this new role, she works primarily with HR, payroll and special events. Liz has been part of some spectacular events in BTB history including: June 4, 2004 when the Mallards drew over 10,000 fans to the game that evening; June 6, 2010 – the inaugural game for the Wisconsin Rapids Rafters; May 31, 2014 – the inaugural game for the Kenosha Kingfish; and August 6, 2015 – the highest attended game in Green Bay Bullfrogs franchise history featuring Mike McCarthy as a guest, as well as many more events along the way. Liz enjoys seeing fans enjoying the ballpark from the minute they get to the ballpark until they leave.
Tryg (short for Trygve) is entering his third year with Big Top Baseball. With a degree in Sport Management from the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse, Tryg arrived in Madison eager for the Mallards season to kick off in 2016. After interning and working two summers in the Food & Beverage and Operations Departments, he transitioned into a full time role as the Director of Operations at Breese Stevens Field. This role allows Tryg to use his event management background to help bring a wide variety of events to life, ranging from high school athletics, to food and beer festivals, to large scale concerts that draw thousands of fans.
Wisconsin born and raised, it comes as no surprise that his favorite events from last fall were the Cheese Curd Festival and Oktobeerfest. When he isn’t helping run events, Tryg enjoys duck hunting, playing cards, and spending time with his new black lab, Thor. Make sure you keep an eye out for this friendly Norwegian at events you attend at Breese Stevens Field this year!
TRISTAN STRAUB – BIG TOP BASEBALL EXECUTIVE CHEF
Tristan is embarking on his eighth annual journey navigating the Food and Beverage landscape for Big Top Baseball, armed only with his expertise, wit, and determination to vanquish hunger and defeat culinary insipidness at all costs. His journey began long ago as a dishwasher in the faraway land of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. He then scaled the mountainous terrain of Central PA to find a culinary oasis at Hotel State College, where he would serve the great people of State College as Sous-Chef from 2000-2004 and reign as Employee of the Year throughout 2002. In 2005, Staub would relocate to Madison and work under the tutelage of Chef Tory Miller at L’toile; leading to a five-year stint at Maple Bluff Country Club from 2006-2012 and a three-year run as Sous-Chef/Pastry Chef at Brickhouse BBQ. In 2014, following a 15 year hiatus from secondary education, he earned his bachelor’s degree in Communication Arts – Rhetorical Studies with an emphasis on Social Justice discourse from the University of Wisconsin – Madison.
Straub’s greatest achievements came in 2011 and 2014, respectively: two brilliant, hilarious, and beautiful daughters – Isabella and Stella. In his free time, Tristan relishes in the splendor of fine literature, cinema, writing, and auditory pleasures spanning all forms of wonderful music human history has to offer.
MATT PHELPS – BIG TOP BASEBALL SOUS CHEF
Matt Phelps joined the Madison Mallards in April of 2017 as Sous Chef. He is responsible for the Great Dane Duck Blind, Tricor/West Bend Club, game-day suite food and daily specials through out the ballpark.
Matt is originally hails from Burlington, Wi, where he got his start at an early age washing dishes at family restaurants. Through the years he has continued developing his culinary skills while traveling the world; living and working in Los Angeles and eventually landing back in Wisconsin. During his time in Madison he has focused on his culinary career and furthered his knowledge of hospitality by working as the Executive Sous Chef of Graze.
In his free time he enjoys drinking cocktails and cinema classics such as Caddy Shack and Major League. As an avid Brewers and Packer fan, he can be spotted grilling brats at either tailgate party.