What a difference a week makes. The original day for the 8th Annual Wiffle Ball Tournament was rained out, but July 25 was perfect in every way. Most of the original teams were able to attend, and the wait was worth it!
Many volunteers worked behind the scenes to make the event a success, including Jenny Byxbee and Erin Montague.
“I met Erin in 2005 at GHS when she was the Junior United Way president. Ten years later, she has taken over Wiffle ball and made it even better,” Byxbee said. “She is technically one of my advisors now that she was appointed as the school representative to the Youth Services Bureau Advisory Board. We’ve come full circle. She pushes me to always keep in perspective what matters most: the kids.”
Jenny’s husband Rich was on team Live United, which included Chris Baker, Bryan Cooper, and George Jagodzinski.
“I’m so glad we got such great weather and so many of the teams were able to come back,” Greenwich Police Chief Heavey said. “One of the coolest parts of this event is that the teams represent all parts of town, as well as kids who don’t even live here. They make it a destination.”
Founded by Jenny Byxbee, Brandon Lacoff, Officer Keith Hirsch, and Ron Young, the tournament boasted 44 participating teams at Greenwich Polo Club this year.
“We saved Wiffle from the Sand Lot because we thought the need to raise awareness and bring back such a good time was so great,” said co-founder Ron Young.
Young said the tournament proceeds will go to the Greenwich United Way and Greenwich Police Department’s Silver Shield Association. At Silver Shield, the funds can be used for “anything from bulletproof vests for officers, to the citizen’s police academy, to Safe Rides, to organizations throughout the community we donate to as a unit,” Community Impact Sergeant John Thorme said.
Event Chair Erin Montague, whom co-founder Jenny Byxbee describes as “the boss of the Wiffle tournament,” has chaired the event for four years. Prior to her work with the tournament, Montague was the Junior United Way President.
“I’ve continued my passion for giving children a voice and helping themselves advocate for what they want and need in life. As long we help kids voice themselves appropriately and maturely, they can be part of the solution just like any of the adults in top hats. This event is an example of everyone working together in this town to do good,” said Montague.
Enter Robby and Jack Barter, two teens epitomizing the buoyant Wiffle spirit.
“The Barters have been instrumental in the positivity and light we see in kids around town, whether that be picking the weeds at our temporary fields, or making sure to always have a team and be a great example of being mature and working well with adults. They’ve spearheaded that,” said Montague.
Though Robby recently broke his tibia while playing rugby, Jack Barter participated in the tournament.
“I like seeing when some of the little kids’ teams actually go pretty far in the tournament. There are teams from all over: New Jersey, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania… some play in professional Wiffle Ball leagues. They travel the country and play tournaments strictly for prize money.” – Community Impact Officer Keith Hirsch, a co-founder of the Greenwich Wiffle Ball Tournament
Event co-founder Jenny Byxbee, also the Director of Community Impact for Greenwich United Way, was excited about erecting the Wiffle fence in Byram Park in the upcoming months. Greenwich’s RTM approved the project last year.
“We at the United Way are so happy that we are going to see the Wiffle fence come to life. We’re very lucky that the Greenwich Polo Club makes us feel at home and gives us this space because it’s really the most beautiful place in town and there’s truly no other place we could do the tournament.” – Jenny Byxbee
Co-founder Brandon Lacoff was pleased about the day’s turnout. “The weather is beautiful, and the teams are playing well. It’s been a great day,” he said.
Co-founders Lacoff and Young’s event highlight was newcomer Missels 1-0 quarterfinal win against crowd favorite Doom, the Greenwich Wiffle Ball Tournament’s returning two-time champions.
“We all played last year on different teams,” said Missels’ Pitcher and Team Captain Quin Canelli. “We’re best friends from home. We’ve played sports our whole lives together.”
The Missels finished the tournament in second place.
Phoenix Mercury won its consolation match for third place against SJ Ravens. Hailing from Granby, CT, Phoenix Mercury comprises Granby’s cream of the crop.
“Me and my boys started a league in Granby, our hometown. All our friends got together and played. We got the best kids together, and here we are in Greenwich, competing for a title.” – Matt Holmes, Phoenix Mercury’s Team Captain
Attractive Male Specimens clinched this year’s championship title.
“This event wouldn’t be possible with one person. We’ve had a huge partnership with the police this year. The guys are here; they’re committed and involved. It’s also thanks to other community members who are willing to donate, whether it be the mom-and-pop shops or Finocchio Brothers. The tournament has been a huge success because of all of the teamwork.” – Erin Montague