MEET THE TEAM

Executive

Aaron Babcock
Founder & CEO
Aaron founded Hail Varsity in 2012 with the goal of building a premium media experience for Husker fans. He has enjoyed a career in sports for over 20 years, working for the Kansas City Royals, UNK and UNL athletic departments and for the New York Yankees. An accomplished photographer, Aaron’s photos have been published in Sports Illustrated and ESPN magazine. When not roaming the sidelines with his camera, he’s probably planning his next trip to Europe.
Jen Babcock
Chief Operating Officer
Jen officially joined Hail Varsity full-time in April 2016, but has been working behind the scenes since the launch in 2012. Jen manages the operations side of Hail Varsity. When she’s not nose deep in a spreadsheet she loves to binge watch Netflix and has been known, on occasion, to enjoy a nice glass of wine or two.

Staff

Mike Babcock
Editor
Mike is in his 40th year covering Husker athletics, after seven years of community-college teaching. He has written and edited a dozen books, all on Nebraska football except one, a brief history of Husker basketball. He previously wrote for the Lincoln Journal and Star and Huskers Illustrated. He enjoys music, from the Grateful Dead and Jack Johnson to Van Morrison, Bob Wills, Glenn Miller and pretty much anyone else.
Lauren Cook
Contributing Writer
Lauren joined Hail Varsity in 2017 as a contributing writer covering Nebraska Volleyball. Lauren played volleyball at UCLA in 2009 and then finished her collegiate volleyball career at the University of Nebraska from 2010-2012. After college, she played professional volleyball in Switzerland and Puerto Rico before making her way back to Lincoln. Lauren considers herself a wine connoisseur and a major “foodie” and she also loves to travel the world. Lauren and her fiancé Jason are engaged to be married in 2018.
Eric Francis
Staff Photographer
As part of a 25+ year career, Eric has covered Husker sports for magazines, newspapers and international wire services. He has been a regular contributor to Hail Varsity for the past few years and officially joined the team as a staff photographer in August 2016. Eric’s photos have appeared in Sports Illustrated, ESPN Magazine and nearly every major sports media in the country. Away from the action, Eric enjoys coaching and teaching young men how to compete and occasionally a nice lager around the fire pit with friends and family.
Mark Kraynak
Radio Co-Host, Video Producer
Mark is the creator and voice behind Hail Varsity’s “No Huddle” video series, and co-hosts Hail Varsity’s Saturday morning radio show. While earning his broadcasting degree from UNL, Mark took Tom Osborne’s “Coaching of Football” class as an elective. He got a “C”. Don’t judge. Mark is a 3-time chili cook-off champion, has abnormally deep thoughts about IPA and single-origin coffee, and lives in Omaha with his wife and 2 kids.
Quentin Lueninghoener
Design Director
Quentin has spent the past 10+ years designing, illustrating and art directing magazines and sports sections of daily metro newspapers. He likes seeing vintage type in use, especially on sports ephemera. He’s been on board since the launch of Hail Varsity in the fall of 2012. His work has been recognized by the Society for News Design, the American Institute of Graphic Arts and his mother’s refrigerator door.
Cody Nagel
Contributing Writer
Cody is a senior journalism major at UNL. He grew up in Fairview, SD, a town of less than 70 people. Cody has covered a variety of Husker athletics, ranging from bowling to football. He has a passion for sports and an interest in telling stories and has developed a knack for sports data and looking deeper into statistics. He's a fan of all Colorado sports teams. Cody and his fiancée Kaitlyn are engaged to be married in July 2018.
Jacob Padilla
Staff Writer
Jacob is in his third year with Hail Varsity covering Husker athletics. He has also written extensively for SB Nation's Bright Side of the Sun and The Creightonian. His love of basketball can best be described as an obsession and if you need to find him, he's probably in a gym somewhere watching, coaching or playing hoops.
Derek Peterson
Staff Writer
Derek is a newbie on the Hail Varsity staff covering Husker athletics. In college, he was best known as 'that guy from Twitter.' He has covered a Sugar Bowl, a tennis national championship and almost everything in between (except an NCAA men's basketball tournament game... *tears*). In his spare time, he can be found arguing with literally anyone about sports.
Chris Schmidt
Radio Host
Chris teamed up with Aaron and Mike Babcock back in 2008 and has been working the radio ever since. Originally from Lincoln, Chris grew up going to Husker games with his family. "Schmidty" loves talking sports and the chance to interview and visit with coaches and players. Chris is married to Erin and they have one son, Carson.
Greg Smith
Recruiting Analyst
Greg is the Recruiting Analyst for Hail Varsity and has covered Husker athletics since 2013. He has always had a passion for sports while growing up in the Chicago area. As he got older and had to hang up his cleats and sneakers, he realized his passion for sports went beyond just watching and attending games. He has covered many events from the Rose Bowl to championship boxing matches. If he's not talking sports, he's hovering over his grill. He is married to an amazing woman, Kim, and they have a dog that barks when Greg yells at the TV during games.
Brandon Vogel
Managing Editor
Brandon is the Managing Editor for Hail Varsity and has covered Nebraska athletics for the magazine and web since 2012, Hail Varsity's first season on the scene. His sports writing has also been featured by Fox Sports, The Guardian and CBS Sports.
James Wooldridge
Staff Photographer
James is a junior photojournalism student at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. He grew up in Kansas City, where he found his love for photojournalism in high school. James has worked for the Colorado Springs Gazette, the Lincoln Journal Star and the Kansas City Star. Coffee in hand, he spends his free time reading the paper, plucking guitar and chasing light.
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