Willkomm Mobil, all about fun, family and winning

Written by Bob on September 13th, 2015
Todd Lubkeman has been the mainstay of the Willkomm Mobil pitching staff and has helped the team achieve great success in NAFA World Series competition. Photo By BOB OTTO

Todd Lubkeman has been the mainstay of the Willkomm Mobil pitching staff and has helped the team achieve great success in NAFA World Series competition. Photo By BOB OTTO

KENOSHA, Wisc. – Chances are if you’re traveling in southeastern Wisconsin, you will happen upon Willkomm’s Mobil and one of it’s several Mobil service stations and restaurants.

The company’s reputation is excellent; it’s service and products great.

And if you’re into men’s fastpitch, somewhere, sometime on ball diamonds throughout the Midwest, you’ve most likely seen or played against a very fine team branded with Willkomm Mobil on its jerseys.

    PROUD TO WEAR THE UNIFORM

It all began when owner Jerry Willkomm agreed to sponsor the team in 1992, and it carries on yet today, 24 years later, with no plans on folding.

“Jerry Willkomm and the entire Willkomm Mobil company has been awesome,” said Willkomm general manager and player, Mark Nelson. “He has sponsored the team since 1992, and had sponsored other fastpitch teams before that. He’s a great person to play for, comes to games when he is in the area, and supports us 100-percent. The team takes pride in wearing the name on and off the field.”

    FAMILY ORIENTED

But it takes more than a great sponsor to make a team successful, to keep it together. Nelson, along with player / manager Dirk Daniels, stress three components that have kept the team rolling on year after year: family, fun, and love of the game.

“Our team acts as family,” Nelson said. “We have each other’s backs…we don’t get down on each other. More than one person has commented they like how we all stay together, do things together, get along great as a team.”

A big part of this closeness has to do with flexibility, says Daniels. If someone can’t make a tournament – has family obligations or other commitments – it’s no big deal.

“We are very understanding if a guy can’t make a tournament,” Daniels said. “You don’t lose your spot because you’re not there. And we don’t burn ourselves out by playing every weekend.”

    DEDICATED PLAYERS

Both Nelson and Daniels agree that a big part of the Willkomm Mobil’s success has to do with commitment. When they show up for a tournament, neither man has to scour the parking lot looking for enough players to field a team.

Because a core group – Todd Lubkeman, Jerrod Dulmes, Scott Beal, Pat Kuhlmeier, Adrian Thomas, Joe Melograno, Jordan Dahlke, Shawn Dahlke, Aaron Davis, Jeff Ryczek along with Nelson and Daniels – can be counted on for showing up on time and ready to play.

“We have a team ready to go to any tournament at any time that is willing to play at any level,” Nelson said. “If enough guys are not interested in a tournament, I pull it off the list. I don’t force guys to go.”

    SUCCESS STARTS IN THE CIRCLE

Willkomm has no fear in facing competition from the NAFA A-Major to Open divisions. A big part of that confidence starts with the big right-hander in the circle – Todd Lubkeman, who was inducted into the NAFA Hall of Fame in 2014, and is regarded as one of Wisconsin’s best pitchers, and one of the finest in the United States.

Nelson should know. The two have been teammates for over 20 years.

“Todd has made us competitive at any level for a long time,” he said. “We can go anywhere and win or be in most every game no matter who we are playing.”

    ONE OF NAFA WORLD SERIES BEST

At the annual NAFA World Series, Willkomm is usually a top-four finisher in the AA to AA-Major Division. In 2015, they finished runner-up in the 12-team AA division; improving from their No. 4 spot in 2014.

And chances are Willkomm Mobil will be around for a long time to come in striving for continued success in the NAFA World Series. For as Nelson and Daniels assert, it’s just too much fun not to play.

“I believe we have created an environment that makes it fun and competitive, which has given us a strong base of guys that WANT to play,” Nelson said, who was inducted into the NAFA Hall of Fame in 2014. “We of course want to win. But I want to make sure everyone is having fun. Why play if you’re not having fun?”

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