STEVENS POINT - Sports today include more technology than ever before. Science is more advanced, data is more easily available, and coaches and athletes are more willing to use it all.
On Thursday July 13, UW-Stevens Point hosted the Great Lakes Analytics in Sports conference to allow people to teach, learn, and share everything they know.
"This is the way of the world now, whether it's in sport or anything else. It's analyzing data to make smarter and more efficient decisions," said Robert Morris University Sport Management Professor John Clark.
Those decisions about strategy, practice, and even medical benefits are backed by numbers more than ever before. That's why UWSP decided to host Wisconsin's first ever sports analytics conference.
"What the value of something like this is, sort of going from the math side I need to be a little bit better at communicating, or somebody who is a good communicator saying I need to learn a little bit more math," said UW-La Cross Statistics Professor Eric Eager.
Eager also analyzes data for Pro Football Focus. He said the conference was perfect for integrating several facets of the data analysis world. The conference included everything from analyzing the best way to run marathons to how lacrosse teams examine a player's impact on the game.
Clark, a Stevens Point native, says the use of analytical data will soon be at the lowest levels.
"The question is; how fast does it come into youth sport," said Clark.
Statistics are used across pro and college sports, and grow more among high school sports each year. Clark says that shift to the lower levels could be very beneficial.
"I think we'll see it at the high school and youth sport quicker in terms of injury prevention, kind of a health preservation thing," said Clark.
At the professional level, data is used for both injury prevention and for gaining a competitive edge. That means scouts that have long relied on their own eyes are now using more numbers to evaluate talent.
"Analytics has always been viewed as a threat," said Eager. "And I think we're getting far better at posing ourselves as helpers and not roadblocks."
Analytics professionals continue to establish themselves as helpers to teams and athletes across all sports, while they also continue to be helpers for each other.
"To come here [the conference] and hear somebody speak and then sit down and talk with them afterword, that's where a lot of advancements are going to come. It's that networking that conference like this really foster," said Clark.
The conference hosted more than 50 presenters and had nearly 200 people in attendance. Organizers say they're already planning to hold another event next year.
MERRILL - Most people enjoy a Thanksgiving dinner with family. But the Merrill firefighters spend their Thanksgiving at the station with their second family, their coworkers. Community members stepped in to make sure the firefighters still had a special Thanksgiving while they were working.
It might be Thanksgiving, but for the Merrill Fire Department, it's just another day
But it is a day with more turkey, stuffing, and pies.
"We had a couple of community organizations that dropped off meals for us which we're definitely grateful for," said firefighter and paramedic Bryson Cruise.
The job doesn't stop for firefighters and Thanksgiving is no exception.
So Park City Credit Union and Hands of Hope wanted to thank the firefighters for their service with a home cooked Thanksgiving meal.
PARK FALLS - Many families began their Thanksgiving Day with a run this morning. Topping off the holiday with a "trot" around town may not appeal to everyone, but for these families it was a way to spend time with one another.
"Trot now so we can pie later," said Steph Schultz, a runner in the Park Falls Turkey Trot.
Families used the Turkey Trot 5K in Park Falls as a way to bond.
RHINELANDER - Nineteen months ago, 10 police agencies surrounded the Tripoli home of Kenneth Welsh.
Police say Welsh caused a three-hour standoff, threatened to blow up his house, and threatened to kill his wife.
Later in court, he was convicted of two felonies and sentenced to three years in prison by Oneida County Judge Michael Bloom.
But now, those convictions and prison sentence have been erased. This month, while in prison, Welsh argued he didn't fully understand all the elements of one of the crimes to which he pleaded no contest, first-degree recklessly endangering safety. Welsh's motion put some of the blame on his defense attorney, Rod Streicher.
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