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Animal House of LaCrosse plans busy fastpitch season

Thursday, April 13th, 2017

LaCrosse, Wisc. – From May to August, Animal House ball players had best set aside most of their weekends. Because they will be playing a lot of fastpitch softball.

BUD OLSON has arranged a busy schedule with 12 tournaments slated – highlighted by a grand finale come August in the NAFA World Series.

Animal House will be traveling a bit to neighboring Minnesota and Illinois. Why the out-of-state excursions?

“Fastpitch has gotten to the point that neighboring states need to come together to make quality tournaments happen,” said Olson, 71. “simply put, ‘if we expect to take, we better be ready to give.'”

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Bud Olson helps foster the revival of men’s fastpitch in La Crosse

Monday, March 20th, 2017

BUD OLSON, NAFA Hall of Fame member (2014), is helping lead the effort to revive men’s fastpitch in LaCrosse, Wisc. Photo By BOB OTTO / 2014 NAFA World Series

LA CROSSE, Wisc. – Some call them diehards. Some call them loyalists. Some call them movers and shakers. They’re the backbone of any worthy cause who roll up their sleeves and get the job done.

And when it comes to men’s fastpitch, Ronn Kopp, Loren Lathrop and Bud Olson fit those labels perfectly.

While many have long since given up, these three men continue the mission to revive the sport in Wisconsin. Maybe that’s why the state is the North American Fastpitch Association’s (NAFA) leader in team registration within the organization.

Kopp is the NAFA president and Lathrop a vice president. Both have been with the organization since its inception in 1993. They run NAFA Wisconsin affairs, conduct tournaments and leagues, and help run one of the most successful national tournaments in the sport: the NAFA World Series.

No doubt, they are true warriors.

Though Olson isn’t a NAFA official, he’s leading an admirable effort to revive fastpitch in the La Crosse area: he runs a team, he recruits younger players and helps form leagues, he encourages city officials to support fastpitch, and he will be hosting the NAFA state tournament for the next three years.

If every state had this type of commitment, the sport would be in much better shape.

Olson grew up on a Wisconsin farm, attended a country school where he began playing fastpitch in first grade. At 14 he was playing in a 4-H league. By 15 his burgeoning talent landed him a spot on the Sioux Creek Farmers team in a men’s league.

“I got my first hit when I was 10 against Bob Davis one of the top pitchers in the Barron County traveling League,” said Olson. “I made Chetek’s traveling team as a 16-year-old shortstop. When our 4-H team entered the Sand Creek Sunday Night league, I was playing four nights a week.”

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Fastpitch softball sees resurgence in La Crosse

Sunday, June 26th, 2016
NAFA Hall of Fame member, Bud Olson, is helping lead the effort to train young athletes to become fast-pitch pitchers in order to reestablish a competitive men's fastpitch program in LaCrosse. Photo By BOB OTTO / 2014 NAFA World Series

NAFA Hall of Fame member, Bud Olson, is helping lead the effort to train young athletes to become fast-pitch pitchers in order to reestablish a competitive men’s fastpitch program in LaCrosse. Photo By BOB OTTO / 2014 NAFA World Series

By Nick Tabbert / WXOW.COM, LA CROSSE

La Crosse, WI (WXOW) – Fifteen years ago, fastpitch softball was a dying sport in La Crosse.

Now, thanks to the efforts of local enthusiasts, the game is trending upward once again, drawing the interest of players young and old.

Fran Formanek, a longtime supporter of the game, said the Dairyland Men’s Fastpitch League had to fold in the late 1990s due to low participation.

This season, there are 10 teams in the league, including a team sponsored by Animal House of La Crosse.

“We just feel there’s a real passion for the game here and there’s a lot of great athletes that are interested I believe in playing,” Formanek said. “If we can start getting some people involved in it, we think we can re-build the league and also become a national power throughout the United States like we were back in the 70s and 60s and 50s.”

A big part of the game is pitching. Both Formanek and Animal House’s team manager Bud Olson believe the resurgence relies on the arms of young pitchers.

“We know there’s a lot of good athletes in this town. What we do need to do is we need to develop pitchers,” he said.

Olson said his goal is to find a group of players just out of high school and develop them into competitive pitchers, a process that could take up to three years.

The North American Fastpitch Association (NAFA) will hold its state qualifier tournament at La Crosse’s Erickson Park from July 22-24. Olson said there will be a reunion for former fastpitch players on Saturday, July 23. Players are encouraged to wear their old jerseys to receive free admission.

For more information about the NAFA state qualifier tournament and Wisconsin men’s fastpitch visit: Wisconsin Fastpitch

NAFA Announces 2014 Hall of Fame Class

Thursday, July 24th, 2014

lubkeman.todd.willkomm.10web Todd Lubkeman is one of the outstanding ball players who will be inducted into the NAFA Hall of Fame at scheduled ceremonies during the NAFA World Series in the Quad Cities of Iowa / Illinois, or at Masters World Series. Photo By BOB OTTO

    NAFA Press Release

    DAYTON, Ore. – The North American Fastpitch Association (NAFA) is pleased to announce its 2014 Hall of Fame class.

    2014 NAFA HALL OF FAME CLASS

UMPIRE CATEGORY

Carley Parish, Canada

COACH / SPONSOR CATEGORY

Rod Engle, Pennsylvania

Bud Olson, Wisconsin

Charlie Bendock, Washington

Greg Alder, Idaho

PLAYER CATEGORY

Todd Lubkeman, Wisconsin

Tim DeJong, South Dakota

Mark Nelson, Wisconsin

B.J. Boom, Minnesota

Larry Cushman, Wisconsin

“Congratulations to each of you for earning the respect of the NAFA family and achieving this honor,” said Benjie Hedgecock NAFA Executive Director. “Each of you will be inducted at one of these three times and locations that you can select by replying to this email thread.”

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