by Jonny Giragos, Ronen Heimlich & Matteo Lee
photo(s) by James O’Connell
Last spring, freshman CJ O’Toole wanted to find a new way to bring a group of friends even closer together: the answer? Wiffle ball.
Although the concept of a student-run sports league is not new, the first-ever season of White Ave. Wiffle Ball (WAWB) knocked it out of the park. The group had over 30 dedicated participants, all from the class of 2026.
The league consists of six teams, each captained by one of O’Toole’s closest friends — Dylan Frassica, Wesley Moore, Ricky Morrison, James O’Connell, Connor Schofield and Yoni Shavelsky — and named after a minor league baseball team: the Flying Squirrels, Indians, Mighty Muscles, Stripers, Trash Pandas and the Yard Goats. In an effort to make the league higher stakes, there was a $10 buy-in for every player.
Measuring 80 feet to center field and 40 to left and right, O’Toole converted his family backyard into a stadium fit for high-quality wiffle ball. The strike zone was an elevated zone off the ground measuring about two by two feet. Strikes were only called if the ball hit the zone, so instead of having to argue over strikes and balls, there was always a definitive answer to the call.
A typical game day consisted of multiple six-inning games, filled with curveballs, grand slams and heated scuffles — all of which could be viewed electronically via Instagram Live. With a packed schedule of games, doubts arose about the availability of all 30 players; spring sports schedules meant many students had numerous time conflicts.
To fit in all the games, players had to sacrifice after-school hours to finish the season. For spring athletes like league MVP Nathan Feldman, the schedule was especially tough to balance.
“I had baseball practices six days a week, but I always had time for WAWB on the weekends,” he said.
To conclude the season, a wild championship series was played out on the last day of school, with over 30 people attending the final. Dylan Frassica, captain of the Stripers, said the most intense moment of the season was the finals.
“A lot of people were watching, and money was on the line,” he said.
The five-game championship series went the distance, but eventually, the Flying Squirrels, captained by Wes Moore, prevailed.
Gavin McDonald, humorously awarded the league’s least valuable player, said his favorite moment from the season was when he hit his first home run, which was a grand slam.
“Everyone was counting me out,” he said. “They said I’d never touch the field. No one believed in me.”
McDonald got his retribution when he hit his debut grand slam.
“As I walk up to home plate, my theme song [Danza Kuduro] starts to play,” he said. “The fans are chanting El Blanca, which was my nickname in WAWB.”
Players all across the skill spectrum were able to participate successfully. Their experience ranged from varsity-level baseball players to those who had never held a bat before.
The unpredictability surrounding player performance made every game unprecedented and fresh.
The consensus among players is that WAWB is here to stay, and the sport of wiffle ball continues to capture the exciting, youthful culture of high school. More importantly, O’Toole said WAWB is an example of how sports can be used to bring people together.
“I wanted to start bringing my friends closer together and expanding our friend group,” O’Toole said. “It’s a great experience to help people learn how to play wiffle ball.”
Stripers team captain Dylan Frassica said that it was the little things, like making homemade jerseys and having funny team names that made the league truly special.
“My team is successful in many ways, except for winning,” he said. “We were successful at staying committed to the league and we home-made the best jerseys.”
After a successful inaugural season, the second season of White Ave. Wiffle Ball will take place this spring. Players like Keshav Kollipara, a member of the Stripers, said he is excited for the reprise of the league this coming spring.
“I’m really looking forward to WAWB this spring,” he said. “The league is growing, and more people are getting involved.”