It is a Thursday night on the wiffle ball field, and the pitcher warms up to throw the first pitch of the game. The teams are getting pumped, fans are cheering and it is going to be a long night for senior sports management major Brendan Dudas, who started Indy Southside Wiffleball.
ISWB was founded in 2009 and is the premiere league of central Indiana. According to its website at ssindywiffleball.com, ISWB plays home to the best and most competitive Wiffle ball experience in central Indiana. ISWB has eight teams and gives out trophies. Dudas, the founder of ISWB, said it is a very real league.
“When people think wiffle ball they laugh at it, and it’s a lot more serious than people would think,” Dudas said. “We belong to a National Wiffle League Association that ranks all of the teams in the nation and looks at all the teams and hands out player of the year awards and does a lot of really cool stuff. It’s a bit overboard, but to the people that are involved, the league is awesome.”
ISWB has two venues: the Dirtyard and the Graveyard. The older of the two venues is the Dirtyard. It was built on top of an old RC car track that Dudas had and was constructed in 2015. The Graveyard was built in 2016 and is called that because it was built on top of the original field.
When the league first began, there were only four teams that participated, but that number has increased to eight. All the games are played on one night, and all the statistics are put on the website the same night. During the games, pictures are taken, videos recorded and pitch speed tracked.
Most of the work needed for the league Dudas does himself, such as field work and website maintenance.
“I’ll come home from work and spend two hours out there raking and doing whatever I have to to get the fields ready,” Dudas said. “Most of my time commitment comes after game night on Thursdays. I’ll be up at midnight or 1 a.m. putting in stats and uploading pictures and videos, just trying to make sure that everybody gets the full experience and keeping it cool and interesting for everybody.”
According to Dudas, even though he does do a lot of work, there are times when he still needs help from some of the league’s players.
“Every year, I look out for the guys who I’ve noticed are into it and committed and are there every week, and I’ll ask those guys for a little help planning the events,” Dudas said. “Every year, we’ve got the big all-star night, where we do a home run derby, and that’s where we raise most of our money. We have a cookout, then the all-star game and then fireworks. So I always need help running that. There are guys that are super-committed and are more than happy to help me with that.”
Since the league was first formed its focus has been to provide an opportunity for a group of friends to spend more time together, according to Dudas.
“It’s really important to me. It’s a great way to get everyone together for one night a week and hang out and have fun,” Dudas said. “At this point in our lives, we all get really busy with school and work and everything, so it’s easy to lose touch with everybody. For the most part, we’re all really good friends, and we get competitive with each other and have fun.”
One of the things that ISWB does is fundraise money for Whitley’s Wishes, according to Dudas.
“My niece [Whitley] died from a rare type of brain cancer called DIPG [diffuse intrinsic pontine glioma],” he said. “She has a fund in her memory that raises money for other kids, families. It raises money for local softball fields in Edwardsville, Ill., just basically anything that Whitley liked doing when she was alive. And [it helps] fulfill those wishes for other people. Throughout the year, we will have several little fundraisers to help raise money for Whitley’s Wishes, and we raise it through our own fundraiser called ‘Wifflin’ for Whitley.’”
Whitley’s fund is now one of the league’s main causes. Most of the fundraisers are for her fund, including the all-star game which is the league’s biggest fundraiser.
According to Dudas, ISWB is an important part of himself, his family and the community and it is not just a league, but a cause for something important.
“As far as the field goes, it’s a chance to put my effort into something, and it shows a reflection of me,” he said. “I’m a perfectionist, so I’m always out there doing things and making sure it’s perfect for everybody. As far as the league goes, everybody is super-passionate about the cause behind it and raising money. It means a lot to us because of the support of friends and the support of community. Once they find out that we’re raising money through it, it gets cooler.”