Snowshoe Park gets ready for Fourth of July snowshoe baseball gameSubmitted: 07/02/2015
LAKE TOMAHAWK - People from all over will come to the Northwoods for the 4th of July holiday, but in Lake Tomahawk, they'll come for another tradition besides fireworks: the annual Independence Day snowshoe baseball game.

People will start setting up seats at Snowshoe Park hours in advance to see the game, and this year, the competition will be bigger and better.

"Competition is really good," says Snowshoe Baseball Manager Jeff Smith. "We have a team coming up from Chicago. They're called the Chicago All-Stars. It's a team that's comprised of a lot of ballplayers that have played in that outseam league before."

People regularly come out for Lake Tomahawk's snowshoe baseball games, but organizers expect the best crowd of the season on Saturday.

"This is by far the biggest attendance that we'll ever see," says Smith. "Upwards of 2,000 people will probably be there, or around the park. And barring the weather--if the weather is nice--the people will be here."

People come for the competitive games, and they stay for the good times.

"Everybody really enjoys watching this game, so it's really not about winning," says Smith. "It's really just [about] having a good time, and that's what we concentrate on. Just everyone having a good time."

Saturday's game will start at 7:30 p.m.

Story By: Dan Marz

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"Really get our hands on our youth, and work with those young kids, and hopefully move us forward so that, when they get to high school, they have a really good grasp of what we're teaching," says Wilhelm.

The Lakeland baseball coach worked with the athletic director to set up the school's first-ever camp.

Coaches hope to mold the kids' raw talent into baseball smarts.

"There's always that raw ability out there," says Wilhelm. "More for us, it's just the fine-tuning and getting them going on what we want them to know. Kind of on the verbage and the sayings and the cues that we want them to use."

Wilhelm says it's also a perfect way to create bonds with the players.

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It's gone so well in its first year that Wilhelm says the camp will be back next year.

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Most systems like the change in format.

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"Minnesota has used this type of a system for many years now," says WIAA Associate Director Deb Hauser. "Many of our schools on the western side of the state play in Minnesota and have expressed their liking of the half format."

The format change is on a one-year trial basis, but officials think it'll be around for a while.

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The town will host its 41st annual softball tournament in August.

24 teams will compete in a double-elimination style bracket.

Teams from as far away as Michigan and Illinois come to compete.

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"It makes us feel good that we put on something that everybody comes out and tries their hardest for," says Tournament Coordinator Josh Kral. "I mean, it's diving for balls. We've seen sprained ankles, we've seen some broken limbs from people going all out."

Tournament winners take home a cash prize, but teams play for more than just that.

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