One of the lucky 7 teams to enter the tournament in 2003, we have made our annual trip to Vermont every year since. We have been to the finals a record 5 times, winning it twice. As the competition has heated up, and the tournament continues to expand to include new teams, the SI Yanks have remained dedicated and competitive. We marvel each year as the field continues to expand, how the tournament remains to have that small town feel, with all focused on the common goal – to help Travis achieve his.
The fun started even just assembling our first team that year in 2003. We put together a bunch of us who grew up playing wiffleball on Staten Island in the 1960’s. It was a great reunion and already, even in that first year, we were the oldest team to compete!
Although each year is incredibly special, there are a few that perhaps stand out most.
There was the great Northeast blackout year in 2004, when our friend and wiffle mentor Tommy Long was to bring up his teenage boys, Timmy, Matt, and Eric and introduce them to the Tournament. Tommy’s job instead kept him in NYC, so out of our nine man roster, four players would be missing. Our buddy and first baseman Rich Colbourne, who had moved to Vermont in 1978 and lives on the other side of Cily Hill, immediately rustled up four local “replacement” players, which included tournament organizers and volunteers. Despite the possible conflict of interest… haha, it would be the only year the SI Yanks would not make the playoffs!
Tommy and his boys did make it the next year, and together they made the next several. Tommy soon became in awe of Travis Roy and fell in love with the tournament. His exemplary play and good sportsmanship made him very popular on and off the fields. Tragically, in December of 2008, Tommy died in a freak accident in NYC. That following year, Tournament organizers featured him in the annual program magazine, and in a touching remembrance, every first batter of each team batted lefty (their opposite stance) in every game throughout the weekend – including the finals where the SI Yanks fell to the Boston Beef. Several teams continue to honor his memory in this way, even to this day. This all gave rise to the annual “Tommy Long Sportsmanship Award”. All of Tommy’s sons have remained on the team, and have become equally hooked on the comradery and magic that this weekend brings.
When we first traveled up Cilly Hill and saw the Green Monster, we had no idea what this little tournament would become.
We did know that we had just met a special young man who taught us even that first year how love conquers all. He knowingly and lovingly embraced the tournament right from that rainy first day. You could already feel the magic, where competition and love rule the day. It just doesn’t happen anywhere else. It really doesn’t. Travis simply exemplifies the true spirit of Mankind. Always being up for the challenge and doing good for others. It’s his passion for his foundation and his passion for this crazy wiffle ball tournament that makes us all eager to come back each August, to strive mightily to help his cause and to spend some quality time with good friends.