By Omar Soussi
Most 13-year-olds spend their summer hanging out with friends, playing video games and trying to accomplish as much (or as little) as possible before they go back to school. For Justin Winn, the summer is filled with the ins and outs and running a wiffle ball league in West Chandler.
Justin has been playing the sport for a year and baseball since he was five. After being involved with his school’s baseball team, when summer vacation rolled around, Justin and his friends were left not having a sport to pursue. So they turned to wiffle ball, not only to stay in shape but have some fun, too.
The Aprende 8th grader said he got inspired to form the league when he saw MLW (wiffle ball) on YouTube and other wiffle groups on Instagram.
He started the American Wiffle League in the summer of 2017, and though the league has only four teams, it has come a long way, recently being acknowledged by the Wiffle Ball Corporation.
“We had our league, and we just asked them, ‘Hey, can we be in Wiffle League,” Justin said. “It took a few months but they said yeah, and we had to just qualify with our website, YouTube, Instagram and stuff.”
The league also got to play another Wiffle Ball league from California, the E-Town Blitzball club, when they came out here to watch spring training with their family.
Wiffle ball is a spinoff of baseball that uses a perforated plastic ball. Eight three-quarter-inch, oblong holes take up half of the ball’s surface area; the other half is hole-less. The game was invented by the father of a young baseball pitcher to provide relief for pain he was experiencing in his arm.
This is made possible by the ball achieving a bent trajectory without the pitcher needing to put spin on it or throw it at top speed. Each ball comes with instructions explaining how to release it in order to achieve various effects—with the perforations up for a straight ball, toward the pitcher’s thumb for a curve, and toward the outer fingers for a slider.
The roster of these teams is currently made up of people Justin knows, but he says he wants to “get a few more people than just his friends so that people know wiffle ball and spread it to the community.”
With all the extra work, whether it’s school or extracurricular, and the pressure it adds, Justin won’t let that keep him away from the sports he loves.
“I’m thinking of doing both,” he said. “Playing baseball and continuing wiffle league.”
For Justin, the local league and playing wiffle ball is a way for him to be involved in a sport, and knowing that the game is based on scoring keeps it competitive.
Basically, however, “there’s no stress,” Justin said. “You don’t have to worry about anything. At the end of the day, it’s more about having fun than winning or losing.”