Joe Cogley, a seventh grader at Roncalli, first thought of the idea last summer while watching YouTube videos of people playing wiffle ball. With the pandemic limiting options for sports, a league seemed to be just the thing to make the summer a little more exciting.
“I said to my mom, ‘Wouldn’t it be fun to start one in Aberdeen?’” Joe said.
With his mom’s help, Joe founded and commissioned the Aberdeen Wiffle Ball League.
About 50 children joined the league after Joe’s mom, Abby, created a Facebook group to spread the word about his idea. Each captain chooses their own team of three to five people, and teams are able to pick their team’s name. Joe’s team is the Octopi.
Each team also gets to design its own t-shirts. Quality Quick Print in Aberdeen helped with creating the logo they used on shirts and banners for the league.
Last year, there were eight teams, but Joe is really hoping to make 16 teams this summer and said they have already had a few more people interested.
“Tom and I were very supportive of Joe’s desires to start this wiffle ball league because it allowed for a creative outlet for his ideas in a fun and safe manner that would build community,” Abby said. She also says a child-led league is important because it teaches them opportunities for organization, compromise, conflict management, and self-expression.
Joe’s whole family is very supportive. Joe’s dad, Tom, also helps Joe practice and perfect his pitches.
“He’ll play wiffle ball in the backyard with me,” Joe said. Last year, his sister Grace even helped out the league by selling popsicles at concessions for the games.
The Cogleys are playing it by ear, but Joe said he hopes to keep the league going for as long as possible.
This year the league is open for anyone ages 10 through 15. When he gets older and there are not as many children his age to play it, Joe’s dream is to move the age bracket back down and continue to act as a manager.
“Hopefully my brothers will want to play then,” he said. Joe has three younger brothers, Gabe (6), James (4), and John (2), along with his two sisters, Grace (10) and Felicity (9).
Joe, who will turn 13 in August, enjoys watching baseball, looking up stats online, playing video games, and reading in his free time. He also likes playing baseball and basketball, but he said baseball is his favorite.
Wiffle ball is similar to baseball, but there are twists in the game that make it uniquely fun. Home runs are easier to hit, there is an element of dodgeball within the game, and the design of the wiffle ball makes it possible to experiment with different pitches.
“I like getting to know the pitches in your opponent’s arsenal and trying to guess what they’ll throw,” Joe said.
He spent hours coming up with his slider and fastball. Some pitches were so fast last year that they were nearly impossible to hit, which led to Joe enacting a 50 mph limit for the league – still fast, but manageable.
Joe points out that the playoffs are also really fun, and this year they are planning for 19 games to leave room for more teams to join.
The league organization day will be July 14, and the first game is July 21 to allow state baseball to finish its final games. The season will go through August 22. Games are on Sundays at 1:00 PM and Wednesdays at 6:00 PM at the Roncalli High School northeast lot.
“The best part about everything is seeing the other teams getting to play what I made,” Joe said. //
Kids who are interested can sign up as a team or a single person on the ‘AWL Wiffle Ball’ Facebook page by July 13.