Summer is for softball

University of Okoboji set for tournament time

Tradition is the name of the game with the University of Okoboji and its annual slowpitch softball tournament is no exception.

Next weekend, Saturday-Sunday, Aug. 17-18, will mark the 42nd edition of the event.

Tournament director Brett Groen first began playing in it more than 20 years ago, and has been organizing it for the past five.

When asked what keeps bringing people back to play, Groen has quick response.

“The easy answer is that it’s always sold by Okoboji,” Groen said. “I still travel and play a bit and have seen some numbers drop elsewhere, but we continue to see so many returning teams here and that is a testament to the area, how much fun and family friendly it is.”

The double elimination tournament gets underway Saturday and continues into Sunday. In the event of weather Saturday the tournament will convert to a single elimination event held Sunday.

As of press time, 27 teams had signed up, including the defending champions, the I Hawks.

Groen said they may also add a Friday night social hour to this year’s tournament for those teams who arrive early.

It would be another boost to what drives the tournament and its continued success with teams that return year after year.

“More than the softball itself, it’s the camaraderie, especially for this tournament, that brings people back,” Groen said. “You have some guys that don’t see each other for most of the year but they all make sure they’re back in Okoboji.”

Prizes are given away throughout the tournament as well as impressive trophies for the champions and runners-up.

But while it’s nice to win, most of the players will be back either way.

Because it’s the University of Okoboji. Where fun in life is your degree.