June 3rd will mark the commencement of the third annual Deb Angstadt Wiffle Ball Tournament, which will take place on the North Mooreland campus of Collegiate School, on the upper grass fields south of Grover Jones Field. The tournament, which will start during the early afternoon, is a two-day long event that allows students and teachers in the community to compete against each other in the classic backyard game known as wiffle ball. Something new this year is that instead of one big tournament, teams will be separated into three divisions: Majors, Minors, and Faculty/Adult, in order compensate for such a large tournament field. People who consider themselves experienced wiffle ball player will have a chance to compete against those in the Majors. Those who consider themselves to not be as experienced can play in the Minors, and adult and faculty teams will play in the Faculty/Adult division.
The sport of wiffle ball is a variation of baseball, where each team is made of about 4-5 players and a plastic bat and wiffle ball are used, instead of typical baseball equipment (further details about the game can be seen in this video). The tournament itself certainly serves as a celebration of the end of what can be a hard and tiring school year. However, the overall goal and main purpose that the event serves is to celebrate the memory and courageous battle that Deb Angstadt, mother of current Collegiate senior David Angstadt (‘16), fought against cancer. She was diagnosed with cancer in early April of 2013 and was only given a month to live. However, she lived long past her original diagnosis and passed away a little over a year later, and she was able to witness the first tournament come into full fruition in May 2014.
Ever since the first Deb Angstadt tournament, the competition has grown tremendously over the years in its mission to bring awareness to Deb Angstadt’s fight, but also in its overall presence in the community. Officially, the tournament itself is put on and run by Collegiate’s Sports Discussion Club (sponsored by beloved Upper School Economics teacher Rob Wedge) which was founded by Josh Neighbors (‘15) now a freshman at the University of Missouri. This year Ben Greer (‘16) and Dalton Ruh (‘16) have taken the new role as co-presidents of the club; however, they are definitely not rookies when it comes to dealing with managing the wiffle ball tournament.
Being an experienced wiffle ball player himself, Greer was the first person to conceive the idea of such a tournament, and he, along with other key contributors, such as Neighbors, Ruh, Gordon Granger (‘16), and Angstadt, along with the many other members of the Sports Discussion Club, helped make it into a reality. During its first year, the tournament raised about $2000 for cancer research, and the year after that it more than tripled that number while also partnering with IMF. This year the club seeks to raise $12,500 to donate to Stand Up To Cancer, an organization that raises funds allocated towards cancer research.
The growth of the tournament can be credited to the dedication of those who manage it and also its popularity among those in the community. Greer says, “The Deb Angstadt Wiffle Ball Tournament is truly an incredible event. The amount it has grown in its first two years is truly remarkable. Seeing the entire Collegiate and Richmond community come together to play an amazing game for an even more amazing cause is what makes the tournament truly special.” Angstadt adds, “I just find it crazy how it really brings together the school for like a two-week period leading up to it, and then the tournament itself, everyone is into it and genuinely has fun, regardless of skill level.”
What most people don’t realize, however, are the many challenges faced when putting on such an event, especially with such limited manpower and time. But what is possibly the most challenging and most crucial aspect is gaining sponsorships from other companies. While much of the money comes from the entry fees paid by participants and donations, what has allowed the tournament to reach such ambitious goals is its ability to gain more and more partnerships with businesses. Last year, some of the main sponsors included SmartBox, Play-it-Again Sports, Portico, and BODYARMOR, along with many others.
The previous two years of the tournament have been filled with much fun and excitement, and this year will be no different. Despite much controversy, the back-to-back champions, the Purple People Eaters, will look to defend their title in a quest to achieve greatness and acclaim wiffle ball royalty as the first ever to achieve a three-peat. However, this year they will face even greater competition, as there will be over 60 teams suiting up to challenge them. Greer says, “I think that they’re a good team with good talent, but at the end of the day their confidence is going to get the best of them, and they’re going to fall short.”
When asked about how he felt about potentially defeating the defending champs, seasoned wiffle ball tournament veteran John Hazleton (’16) (who also compares himself to the great Joel Deroche) replied with a glistening smirk on his face, “Yes, I feel very confident about beating them,” despite the fact he has yet to find a team of his own. As teams continue to train in the weeks leading up to the tournament, only time can tell who is truly capable of overcoming the odds and rising up to emerge as champions. Sweat will be shed, hearts will get broken, shorts will get stained, and only a few will remain on top. The increasingly competitive attitude of this event is only a reflection of how much it has grown in just a few years, and it hopes to make the same progress in the years ahead in order to continue to raise awareness and to further honor the name and legacy of Mrs. Angstadt.
If you want to gather up a team and compete in the tournament, sign ups are here. The cost to play is $15, which includes a tournament T-shirt.
If you want to donate to the tournament for the purpose of cancer research, you can donate here.