WISCONSIN SPORTS SERVICES
BADGER TRACKS- NOTES FROM THE EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, DAN KLINKHAMMER
bout two and a half years ago, I was recruited to be one of the guest speakers at the Wisconsin Parks and Recreation Association state conference in La Crosse, Wisconsin. I presented two sessions that day, “Trends in Youth Sports” and “Learning to Live with Travel Teams.” The basic topic of both presentations was how different youth sports are now versus the “good old days” of yesteryear. In the process of delivering those sessions, I discussed some of the current problems in the world of youth sports and how we have adapted to them in Minnesota. You see, not only am I the Executive Director of the newly formed Wisconsin Sports Services, I am also the co-founder and current Executive Director of the Minnesota Youth Athletic Services, which is a 501c3 nonprofit organization that began doing business in Minnesota in 1991. For me, this is déjà vu all over again. Following both presentations, I was surrounded by Park and Rec professionals and all of them had the same message: “We sure could use an organization like the MYAS in Wisconsin.” I have heard that same sentiment from numerous western Wisconsin baseball, wrestling and basketball teams that make frequent trips across the border to participate in the
leagues and tournaments offered by the MYAS. I had also heard that those same teams weren’t too keen on the idea of being from the Badger State and playing in the Gopher State Baseball League or Gopher State Basketball Tournaments. Frankly, I don’t blame them! I was born and raised in Bloomington, Wisconsin, so I can totally understand why Wisconsin would want their very own organization to service their amateur sports. (How I ended up in Minnesota is still sort of a mystery to me and a much longer story than you’d care to read, so we’ll leave that for another time.) That WPRA conference was held in early November, the week before the 2010 Minnesota deer opener. I spent the next three days in my tree stand, wondering if an organization like the MYAS could make it in Wisconsin. The following January, I met with the MYAS Board of Directors and secured their permission to start a feasibility study on the creation of a sister organization in Wisconsin. To make a long story short, over the next 18 months we made 22 trips to Wisconsin, meeting with anyone and everyone who would talk youth sports with us, including a four-hour meeting with the WIAA staff. I wanted to get a feel for the youth sports pg. 2
environment in Wisconsin. I wanted to know what you had and what you didn’t have. I wanted to know what you liked and what you didn’t like. I wanted to know who the “good guys” were and who the “bad guys” were. I wanted to know who was in it for the kids and who was in it to fill their own pockets. If we were going to commit to this project, we needed to know the current lay of the land for youth sports in Wisconsin. Nearly two years after the initial thought passed through my head, the MYAS Board of Directors gave their blessing and approved funding for the creation of the Wisconsin Sports Services. A lot has happened since then. All of the necessary registration paperwork, trademarks and documents were filed in both Wisconsin and Minnesota, which was a complicated and daunting task. Next was creating the WSS website (www.wisportsservices.org), which has been up and running since mid-January. The search for office space led us to 2317 International Lane in Madison. We signed the lease on that space in February and started painting and setting up the office in March, with a target of an April 1 opening. Staffing the WSS was a challenge. When I polled the MYAS staff on who would like the challenge of moving to Wisconsin and taking on the task of building the WSS from scratch, only two hands were raised. Yes, you guessed it – my two sons Adam (31) and Lance (28) would eventually be the first
two pair of boots on the ground in Wisconsin. (I raised them as Packer and Badger fans so it was a no-brainer for them to jump on the bandwagon!) Since then, we have been joined by Brian Meeter, Marketing Director, and Beth Davis and Jake Wenzel as two additional Program Directors. They are all college graduates, with degrees in Sports Administration. The WSS full-timers will be assisted by six parttime Area Directors who are located in our hub cities of Eau Claire, Wausau, Green Bay, La Crosse, Madison and Milwaukee. So all together, we have 11 people ready and willing to do whatever is best for Wisconsin’s amateur sports population. With all of that said, having an office, a fulltime staff and a website does not mean that we are established – far from it. We fully understand that we are the new guys on the block and it will take some time to earn your respect, trust and confidence. I have repeatedly told the young and energetic WSS staffers that this is not a sprint, it’s a marathon. I fully expect that it will take 3-5 years before the entire state is aware of what benefits the WSS brings to Wisconsin. It will take some time to build those relationships. It will take some time to figure out the Wisconsin sports puzzle, but we are up to the task. We’ve done it before and we WILL do it again…or die trying! So now you know how we got here. In a few years, I hope you are all saying, “We are glad that you came!" pg. 3
MARKETING OF WSS EVENTS ON THE RISE
By Brian Meeter, WSS Marketing Director
isconsin Sports Services officially hit the ground running this spring with the launch of a dynamic web site and the launch of a sophisticated marketing attack with the help of Wisconsin Sports Network. In addition to an online ad campaign on the WSN web site, WSS was featured in an article in WSN Illustrated, the print and online magazine of Wisconsin Sports Network. Click here for a link to the magazine: http://wissports.uberflip.com/i/134392 The programming staff at WSS is busy putting together a series of youth and adult sporting events across the state. With that, businesses are asking how they can get involved with our growing number of events and marketing opportunities. There are many ways, from sponsoring single event, multiple events, and programs in general. For example, in August, Dudley softballs and Combat bats have signed on as sponsors of our USSSA State Softball Tournament in Janesville. There are many different ways to get involved, please contact Brian Meeter at firstname.lastname@example.org to find out how!
Marketing Tip # 1: Offer Exclusive Deals to your Social Media Customers Social marketing through Facebook and Twitter can be a struggle for some businesses, especially new businesses trying to navigate the complex world of social media. Start with offering exclusive deals or content to your social media customers. Contests with prize giveaways are a perfect example to reward your customers, activate their interest, and create a buzz about your business. This can be a low cost effective way to increase your customer base and reward those who are active on your social network!
BADGERLAND BASEBALL UPDATE
By Adam Klinkhammer, WSS Associate Director
isconsin Sports Services (WSS) baseball staff is proud to announce a new end of the year baseball event, the Badgerland Tournament of Champions (BTC). The BTC is the sister event to the Gopher State Tournament of Champions (GSTC), administered by the Minnesota Youth Athletic Services (MYAS). Widely regarded as the most prestigious youth baseball event in the Upper Midwest, 474 teams participated in the 2012 GSTC at three competitive divisions over six different age levels. Due to the success of the Minnesota program, the BTC aims to replicate the GSTC in bringing together the best teams in the state by selecting local invitational tournaments ran by local associations and awarding them qualifier status. The top finishing teams in each local tournament are awarded Automatic Berths as well as BTC points to all participating teams that can earn At-Large Berths through the BTC Points system. This year, the BTC will be offering tournaments at three age levels (10u, 11u and 12u) in three different communities in August. Consistent with all WSS sanctioned events, we provide fundraising opportunities to
a local youth sports group that provides the volunteer workforce and retains all concessions and admissions. We believe by partnering with our customers and allowing them to raise funds for their programs, it will result in a stronger local athletic community as a whole. This year, the Host Groups for the 2013 BTC are Holmen Youth Baseball, Onalaska Park and Rec and the Waukesha Blazers Baseball program. We would like to thank these groups for their time and effort to make this inaugural event a special one. Besides first-class communication, timely delivery of tournament related materials and utmost professionalism, we believe the biggest draw to this event are the unique awards. Every player on the championship team in this yearâ€™s BTC will receive a customized Jostens ring pg. 5
complete with name, player number and team record with lifetime sizing available. Weâ€™d like to think our ability to administer first-class programs is the reason so many teams are scrambling to get in this tournament, but weâ€™d be kidding ourselves if we didnâ€™t acknowledge the Rings as one of the biggest reasons that the Tournament of Champions is the crown jewel of baseball tournaments in Minnesota currently and Wisconsin in the future. We have also created webpages on our WSS website that are specific to each individual tournament including photo galleries, brackets, maps to fields, tiebreaker information, links to local hotels and weather updates specific to the location of the event! In an effort to take this event to the next level and really knock it out of the park, we have reached an
agreement with the Milwaukee Brewers to be able to bring the championship teams to Miller Park and parade them around the warning track before arriving at home plate to receive their championship rings. Ticket deals will also be offered to participating teams to encourage family and friends to be a part of the experience and watch their player receive their ring on the field and up on the Jumbotron. Bring your cameras! The WSS staff is very excited about the future of Wisconsin baseball and the Badgerland Tournament of Champions. Please stayed tuned as we look to expand our baseball offerings in future. To check out all the tournament web pages and to learn more about our current baseball program, please visit our website at www.wisportsservices.org
BADGERLAND BASKETBALL UPDATE
By Lance Klinkhammer, WSS Associate Director
ello to all of you involved in youth basketball around the great state of Wisconsin and though it is still “Vacation Season”, the start of Fall & Winter youth basketball is right around the corner. Don’t get us wrong, we don’t think anyone is excited for the snow to start flying again quite yet, but here at the WSS, we are very excited about our plans for the upcoming Fall & Winter basketball season! In the Fall of 2013, the WSS will be offering a pair of Invitational tournaments to your teams in an effort to help your players warm up for the Winter. These events will be coordinated over two days and our goal is to place them in a location that will be accessible to all teams around the state. Provide your players some ever-important playing time early in the season! Tired of playing the same teams in your local basketball league every weekend? The WSS will be coordinating a number of our Badgerland Super Saver events all over Wisconsin throughout December, January & February to offer your teams the ability to play against competition that you may not otherwise experience through your league play. We designed these events to save time for your parents, players and coaches by providing an efficient schedule format. How does that work? Teams that play in these events will be guaranteed three games and have a total time commitment of only 5 hours which means, are you listening Moms and Dads…. You get your weekend back! Last but not least, we’re working diligently out of our office in Madison to bring an all-inclusive State Basketball Tournament to Wisconsin in March of 2014. This program will offer every team in your community, regardless of your competitive level, the chance to play in a season-ending tournament against equal competition. We believe that all youth basketball players deserve the opportunity to play in this prestigious event and we think all of you do too! Watch our website for more information about all of our plans for youth basketball! WWW.WISPORTSSERVICES.ORG pg. 7
BADGERLAND softball UPDATE
By Adam Klinkhammer, WSS Associate Director
First, a little history…
he United States Specialty Sports Association (USSSA) was founded as the United States Slow-pitch Softball Association in the spring 1968. Over that last weekend of August 1968 the first USSSA World Softball Tournament was played in West Allis Wisconsin. Over the past 40 years USSSA has grown from a couple of thousand slow-pitch softball players to over 3.5 million participants playing 13 primary sports. In fact, USSSA sanctions teams and individuals in 38 sports. USSSA’s first decade was a turbulent one. USSSA led the charge to allow amateur athletes to play slow-pitch softball in whatever league or association they wished. Prior to 1975, ASA, then the largest slow-pitch softball association, barred any of its teams from playing in any non-ASA sanctioned event or league. This rule was first challenged in ASA’s internal process and then brought to a close after USSSA successfully filed suit in Federal Court to stop ASA’s discriminatory practices. People playing softball, and now playing many other sports, is what USSSA has always been about and has served as a foundation for its continued growth.
In the eighties USSSA grew by leaps and bounds. USSSA purchased a building in Petersburg, Virginia for its National Headquarters and Hall of Fame Museum. By the end of the decade USSSA membership had surpassed 100,000 teams and USSSA toured the world to promote softball, sportsmanship, and good will. The nineties were the best and the worst of times for USSSA. The association continued to grow, however softball was decreasing in popularity. The various associations were cannibalizing each other in order to inflate their team registration numbers. In 1998 USSSA suffers a tragic loss when its longtime CEO passes away. The Board of Directors, immediately named the Assistant Executive Director, Don DeDonatis, as the new CEO. DeDonatis initiated sweeping changes. The changes included branching out into sports other than softball. By the end of the nineties USSSA had grown to over 1.6 million participants, with 300,000 being non slow-pitch softball. In March 2003 USSSA moved its national headquarters from Virginia to Osceola County, Florida. This move pg. 8
has benefited USSSA and Osceola County in many positive ways. In 2007 USSSA had over 3.5 million participants and is solely responsible for 58,044 room nights in Central Florida, of which 45,307 room nights are in Osceola County. This means millions of dollars in positive economic impact to the region. Currently, USSSA nationally governs 13 amateur sports. Slow-pitch softball, baseball, fast-pitch softball, and basketball athletes make up approximately 90% of USSSA’s membership. The remaining 9 sports account for over 350,000 registrations in USSSA, including Tae Kwan Do and Soccer, two sports that USSSA holds events in Osceola County. Over the past ten years USSSA has not failed to increase its year to year membership. In fact, for all but 3 of those 10 years USSSA’s membership has grown by over 10% per year. Over four decades ago, a group of ballplayers got together and decided they wanted to run a softball tournament. They envisioned an event that would bring together the best slow pitch teams in the land but were at odds with the thengoverning body, disputing rules and gameplay. Word spread quickly about the new game being played in
the Midwest and the new format grabbed the attention of teams far and wide. In 1968, the tournament they would eventually name the “World Series” was held in West Allis, Wisconsin. The USSSA was born. Fast forward to 2013. The USSSA is the largest multi-sport organization in the nation. State associations are operating in every corner of the country as playing opportunities continue to grow. Over 200 teams participate in every class and division at the USSSA World Series every year. In Wisconsin, the birthplace of the USSSA, sanctioned softball has fallen by the wayside and has been replaced by cash tournaments and independent event operators. Long gone are the days of bragging rights and the opportunity to continue competition on a regional and national stage. In December 2012, the USSSA brass approached the newly-formed Wisconsin Sports Services (WSS) and appointed a new State Director with years of experience participating in Minnesota’s vibrant USSSA softball community which happens t be the largest in the nation. The WSS got to work right away on organizing an event for 2013 and are proud to announce that the Men’s State pg. 9
Tournament will be played on the second weekend in August at Dawson Fields in Janesville, WI. Offering Upper and Lower divisions and a total awards/equipment package over $1,700, the USSSA is back! Softball giants, Combat and Dudley, have been secured as tournament sponsors and will have a presence at the event. The Janesville Park and Rec will be providing the host responsibilities and be offering concessions for the hungry. Easily the most popular place at any softball tournament, the Janesville CVB will be donating a beer tent and will be serving cold glasses of hops and barley all weekend. After Saturday’s competition, the teams along with their friends and family will be invited to join the after-party at Time Out Pub and Brewery just down the street from Dawson. Registrations into the tournament will be accepted until 32 teams are registered or until August 2nd, so don’t wait and sign up today. A State
Tournament webpage has been created that includes brackets, rules, hotel info, photo galleries, weather links and more! Going forward, the WSS/Wisconsin USSSA has plans to build the prestige of the State Tournament through offering regional qualifying tournaments that allow the awarding of berths to national and world competition. Plans are in the works to expand the Wisconsin USSSA by offering the online/administrative capabilities of the WSS to softball leagues in every corner of the state. Look for Mixed (Co-Ed) and Women’s divisions to be added to the State Tournament lineup card in the future. Even though Wisconsin is the birthplace of the USSSA, 2013 will hopefully be considered the re-birth of the prestigious organization in the Badger State. Come on down to Dawson Fields in August and help us celebrate the waning days of summer with some good softball and a cold beer! pg. 10
COMING SOON BADGERLAND FALL FASTPITCH PROGRAM JOIN US IN SEPTEMBER FOR OUR FIRST EVER BADGERLAND GIRLS FALL FAST PITCH PROGRAM!
3 AGE DIVISIONS: 12u 14u and HIGH SCHOOL DEER WOOD PARK, HOLMEN DOUBLE HEADERS EVERY SUNDAY SEPTEMBER 8TH, 15TH, 22ND AND OCTOBER 6TH REGISTER AS A TEAM OR INDIVIDUALLY $80.00/PLAYER OR $70.00 IF REGISTERED AS A TEAM EVERY PLAYER WILL RECEIVE A JERSEY AND VISOR QUESTIONS? CALL WISCONSIN SPORTS SERVICES @ 608-210-1710 OR EMAIL BETH@WISPORTSSERVICES.ORG
THANKS TO OUR SPONSOR!
Wisconsin Sports Services 2317 International Lane- Suite 210 Madison, WI 53704 Phone: 608-210-1710 pg. 12
Wisconsin Sports Services: July Newsletter