The Northwoods League announced that Liz Kern, General Manager of the Wisconsin Rapids Rafters, has been named 2010 NWL Executive of the Year. The award, which was decided by a vote of team officials at the League’s annual fall meetings last week in Waterloo, IA, is given annually to the League’s outstanding executive. In another vote, the Willmar Stingers were awarded the second annual Organization of the Year award, giving a sweep of the awards to the two 2010 NWL expansion franchises.
Kern recently completed her first season as General Manager of the Rafters. Under her leadership the Rafters drew a total of 46,515 fans (1,368 per game) ranking the team 7th out of 16 teams in League attendance. Her efforts also helped transform Historic Witter Field into one of the more beautiful venues in the entire Northwoods League. Kern is the first female recipient of the NWL Executive of the Year Award, now in its ninth year.
“Congratulations to Liz for a much deserved award and for putting her mark on the historical list of accomplishments of women in baseball,” said NWL President Dick Radatz, Jr. “Her achievement is another wonderful moment in the evolution of the Northwoods League.”
“I am very honored to receive this award,” said Kern. “It has been a great inaugural season in Wisconsin Rapids and we are very excited about the community support we have received. I look forward to working with the fans to make the next season even better.”
The Northwoods League awarded the Willmar Stingers as the Organization of the Year for 2010. The expansion franchise averaged over 1,000 fans per game in their first year playing at Bill Taunton Stadium in the west central Minnesota community of about 20,000 people.
"This recognition on behalf of the Northwoods League is a direct reflection of the people of the Willmar Lakes Area,” said Stingers co-Owner Marc Jerzak. “Stingers fans, host families, sponsors and city officials embraced the Northwoods League and showed why the Willmar area is a great place to live, work and play baseball. A tip of the cap goes out to all those that helped make the 2010 Inaugural season a memorable one."
Marc Jerzak and Ryan Voz, along with Gary Posch, started the expansion Stingers as owners last fall after both men spent the last decade elsewhere in the League. Voz was the 2002 NWL Executive of the Year while with the Alexandria Beetles and also worked in the St. Cloud and Brainerd Lakes Area in recent years. Jerzak earned the NWL Executive of the Year honor in 2007 while with St. Cloud. He also spent a year each with Brainerd Lakes Area and Alexandria. Nick McCallum, who interned in Brainerd in 2009, has been the team’s Assistant General Manager since early 2010.
“The 2010 Northwoods League Organization of the Year comes as no surprise given the leadership of the franchise,” Radatz said. “Marc and Ryan have proven themselves to be overachievers since they entered the League.”
The Northwoods League has more teams, plays more games and draws more fans than any other Summer Collegiate Baseball League in North America. The Northwoods League completed its 17th season of play in August.