As we get into the middle of September, the baseball season really kicks into high gear. The best teams – like the Red Sox this year – start to rest key players and get their houses in order for the playoffs. Those still fighting for a playoff spot tend to go all-in for a shot at the postseason.
But around here, there’s only one game that matters this September, and it has a bigger impact on real human lives than any MLB game: NHTI’s annual Wiffle Ball Tournament, to be held this Saturday.
Every year, Concord’s Community College hosts the tournament to benefit a local child who suffers from a medical condition. Since the tournament started, more than $65,000 has been raised for children in need. In 2016, a then-record $10,000 was raised for a local teen named Emma, who has autism. This year, all money raised will benefit Beatrice, a local 4-year-old girl who has been diagnosed with Ehlers-Danlos syndrome, a connective tissue disorder.
Money raised comes from team registration fees, donations and a silent auction held during the event. Registration fees are $100 for team members, matched by $100 from a business sponsor.
This philanthropic event – the first major one of this school year for NHTI – is a collaboration between the school and Partners in Health, a statewide community-based program that provides support to families of children with chronic health conditions.
The tournament features 10-player teams from other colleges, high schools, businesses and the community in general, and the play is extremely fast-paced – not at all like the style you play in your backyard.
Games begin at 9 a.m. and are scheduled every hour throughout the day, both outdoors on the campus quad (weather permitting) and indoors in the Goldie Crocker Wellness Center Gym. Each team tries to score as many runs as possible in three, five-minute innings. You pitch to your own team, with the object being to lob it over so your teammate can crush it and round the bases as quickly as possible to send the next batter up. The number of outs is irrelevant – it’s all about racking up the most runs in the allotted time.
If that sounds intense, it’s because it is – I know from experience. I was lucky enough to play in the tournament in 2015 on a Monitor/Insider team, and it was an exhausting but wildly fun time. That year’s tournament raised $7,100, a record at that time, for a boy named Seth, who was diagnosed with hemophilia before he was born.
The tourney is Saturday, but it’s never too late to get involved. There are often teammates who can’t make it and spots end up opening up, said Kaitlin Moody, student life coordinator.
If you’d like to get involved, either by joining a team or just donating to the cause, contact NHTI’s student life office at 230-4045 or firstname.lastname@example.org.