South Shore Convention and Visitors Authority (SSCVA) was able to host the Opening Day of the National Softball Association (NSA) Northern World Series Skills Competition 2022. Opening day consisted of teams, parents, and supporters coming together from all over the midwest to take part in, or spectate a skills competition, as well as DJ entertainment, pin trading, and vendors including World Series Apparel and Diamond Sport Gear.
“This means everything to the area. This is the largest event that we host in the summertime. There are over 156 teams. There are usually 8000 people that visit the South Shore,” Megan Goodan, South Shore Manager of Sports Development said. “It brings in over $1.5 million in economic impact for our area, and not just Lake County, but it does span over all five counties. It’s awesome.”
Due to the high amount of teams participating in the six-day tournament as well as game day and ceremony locations being spread across the area, the teams are staying in hotels all over the region. South Shore Chief Marketing Officer Heather Becerra explained this to be the reason this is her favorite week of the year.
“This is my favorite event, my favorite week of the year. It's one of those events where no matter where you are in the region, you're probably going to run into a group of softball girls with their uniforms on, so it always ends up being one of my favorites,” Becerra said.
There are countless businesses, activities, and sights to see across the region. When the athletes have downtime in-between games, they can experience destinations all across the region while also supporting local business owners.
“I believe we have one of the best areas in the Midwest, especially in the summertime,” David Uran President and CEO of South Shore said. “It's really cool to see the business owners really see the impact it has because when you start to see all these athletes coming in wearing their names across their chest, and they're from outside of the area, it's a really cool experience. That's the economic impact that our business community gets to experience, which they love now.”
South Shore works together with the cities and parks departments of the region as well as the NSA directly all year to ensure this tournament is the best it can be. Being able to witness the event come together is an amazing sight to see as the Crown Point Sportsplex was packed with people.
“I’m getting chills just talking about it, but seeing everything come to fruition is awesome. It's something that we work on year-round, especially with the NSA president, Bill Horton, and his wife Kathy,” Goodan said. “We work with them year-round to make sure that this is one of the premier destinations for them to come to and can keep continuing to come back to as the NSA World Series here on the South Shore.”
Bringing over 150 teams together for one tournament creates an amazing sense of comradery between the teams. The tradition of pin trading is one of the athlete’s favorite parts of the tournament because they are able to trade and collect pins from other teams from across the country. While trading pins, the athletes are able to make connections and form friendships that have the potential to last a lifetime.
“There's a long tradition of these teams getting together and sharing their pins of where they're from. Today, besides a skills competition, we really get to show your individual talents or your team talents out here,” Uran said. “They get the experience of knowing other players from other teams and building those relationships that could be a long-life friend, and that relationship actually gets established here at this tournament. Those are pretty cool memories to have.”
Crown Point Mayor, Pete Land, explained what a wonderful opportunity being able to host day one of the tournament was for Crown Point. Being able to provide a location for the athletes to come together, and make memories is priceless.
“It’s great. The enthusiasm doesn’t wane throughout the week and only grows as the games continue on,” Land said. “Being able to host day one, the skills competition, was really unique and cool to watch. It’s great to be a part of the kickoff of the NSA World Series tournament.”