John Fanta – General Manager
John Fanta enters his seventh season in the Northwoods League, and first as General Manager of the Wisconsin Rapids Rafters, after spending four seasons as Assistant GM. Before joining the Rafters, Fanta spent two summers as an intern for the La Crosse Loggers, overseeing their ticket sales operation, followed by a brief stint as a Management Trainee at Marine Credit Union in Onalaska, Wisconsin. Fanta received his bachelor's degree in Sport Management and Business Administration from the University of Wisconsin – La Crosse in 2009. During college Fanta spent two years as an intern in the Viterbo University athletics department where he assisted the athletics director in event management for baseball, softball, and men's and women's basketball. Fanta is originally from Viroqua, WI and currently resides in Wisconsin Rapids. In his free time he enjoys running, fishing, spending time with family and friends, and is an avid Brewers, Packers, and Badgers fan.
Jake Serwe – Director of Operations and Inside Sales
Jake Serwe enters his third season with the Wisconsin Rapids Rafters and first as Director of Operations and Inside Sales after working as the Rafters Ticket Sales and Box Office manager last year. He spent the summer of 2012 as an operations intern and head groundskeeper for the team. Serwe began his career in baseball as an intern with the Omaha Storm Chasers of the Pacific Coast League in 2011. He received his bachelor's degree in Sport Management from UW-Parkside in December of 2012. The Brownsville, WI native enjoys watching Wisconsin Sports and loves to go deer hunting and fishing in his spare time.
Vern Stenman – Co-Owner/President
Stenman, the 2003 and 2005 Northwoods League Executive of the Year, enters his seventeenth season in the NWL, and fifth as President of the Wisconsin Rapids Rafters and the Madison Mallards, after spending eight seasons as the Mallards General Manager. His innovative promotional ideas and steady vision have contributed to Madison's rising attendance each season—including consecutive 200,000+ attendances from 2006 to 2013—and the Rafters consistency with finishing in the top half of the League in attendance despite existing in the second smallest market. Prior to Madison he was an intern and later Assistant GM for the St. Cloud River Bats from 1997 to 2000 before taking a corporate account position with the NHL's Minnesota Wild for a year. Stenman and wife Kallie have two children, daughter Chloe Mae and son Bode Axel. He is originally from St. Cloud, MN.
Steve Schmitt – Co-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, and now Rafters baseball in Wisconsin Rapids. Since 2001 the Mallards have made the playoffs five times, including a Northwoods League Championship in 2004 and 2013, and appearances in the Championship Series in 2005 & 2008. Schmitt's teams have finished at-least in the top-half of the division standings for every year but two since the Madison franchise's inception. 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.
Darla Gotz – Host Family Coordinator
Darla Gotz, the Rafters Host Family Coordinator, is entering her second year in the position. Darla and her family are opening their home to Rafters players again this season, which they have done every summer since the Rafters inaugural year in 2010. Darla is a die-hard Rafters fan and a Wisconsin Rapids local with plenty of team spirit. While supporting her favorite team, she is also a dedicated mother of 4 and loving wife of 20 years to husband and fellow Rafters fan, and Public Address Announcer, Van Patrick Gotz. Darla is also employed at US Bank where she is a customer service representative. Darla's hobbies include karate, traveling, and spending time with her family.
"Being a Host Family is a very rewarding experience. I have 6 sons around the country that I still keep in touch with."-Darla
Van Patrick Gotz – Public Address Announcer
Gotz brings a wealth of broadcasting background to the Rafters. He has worked for several radio stations in Central and Western Wisconsin throughout the years. One of Gotz's greatest moments was when he was the public address announcer at the John Hancock Legends autograph session for the 2004 Major League Baseball All-Star Game festivities. At the event he had the privilege of introducing his childhood heroes including Ryne Sandberg, Ozzie Smith, Andre Dawson, and Cecil Cooper. He also had the opportunity to meet and introduce the Original Ladies of Baseball, which the movie 'A League of their Own' was based off of. Van Patrick, along with his wife Darla, and children Benjamin, Jakob, Sydney, and Stacy are no strangers to Rafters baseball as they have been a host family for players during the previous four seasons.