By SLW Senior Writer, Kevin Walsh
As another SLW Classic has arrived, thoughts inevitably drift to visions of being crowned tournament champion, wondering whether or not Tenacious E will return or kick-starting the seventh captain discussion, if only to watch grown men debate as if the outcome will earn the victor 72 virgins upon death.
These uncertainties are allowed because the majority of the weekend participants have no worries other than making it to the lake before the commish finds a reason to ban them. For this, we can thank the Ladies of SLW. No perverts, not the ones from Jo-Jins, but instead the ones who make sure none of the sizeable stomachs goes unfilled – Char Pope and DeeDee Hixson.
“There is no way this event happens without the tireless and thankless job of preparation by the sisters,” said SLWAA President Geoff Hixson. “Even though they enjoy the weekend and have gotten really efficient, they still spend a ton of time while we are playing or acting like idiots prepping, cleaning and generally keeping things moving.”
“Dee Dee and Char are Shangri La’ Wiffleball.” Said Commissioner Jaime Hixson. “They have allowed us to continue this nonsense for nearly 20 years. Not only do they do a ton of work in the weeks leading up to the event, they work endlessly at the event and make sure that us wifflers have all we need to stay nourished and hydrated and that everyone has a place to sleep.”
That effort and the resulting spread has drawn rave reviews from participants since the event’s inception, with no higher authority than the Voice of SLW, Jason ‘Dude’ Morgan, weighing in:
“We love the ladies,” Dude said. “They are essentially the Martha Washington’s of wiffleball. A fine poet once said ‘behind every good man there is a woman’, and that woman was Martha Washington, man, and everyday George would come home and she would have a big fat bowl waiting for him, man, when he came in the door.” Well Char and DeeDee are the Martha Washington’s and we’re all George and inside our bowls are breakfast sandwiches and other bounties of high-caloric meals.”
Char and DeeDee are able to enjoy the fruits of their efforts from the moment the first car pulls up.
“My favorite part of the weekend is when everybody starts to arrive,” DeeDee said. “I always feel so happy and proud to greet all the fine men who are good friends of Geoff and Jaime.”
“The old saying ‘If it ain’t broke don’t fix it’ can be used to describe wiffleball weekend,” Char said. “Jaime has added a new flair now and then and that must be working as 19 years is a long time for a bunch of guys to look forward to a weekend.”
For the men who are arriving, being greeted by a hug from Char and DeeDee signals the start of one of the most anticipated weekends of the year. It’s a weekend that has become an annual tradition and continues to draw guys back from all over the country- unless of course your fiancé drags you to weddings every other year.
That camaraderie was cemented years ago by the patriarch of SLW, the Mayor, Bernard Alblinger, a man whose name is synonymous with the SLW Classic. B.J.A. is the man who guided the transformation from weekend pickup game to a braggin’ rights event to a much anticipated reunion. His influence and legacy can be seen not only on the stadium marquee, but also more importantly in the memories garnered over the years.
“The memories of my Dad looking forward to wiffleball weekend so much stands out most in my mind when this time of year comes around,” said Char. “He really enjoyed seeing everybody get together and have fun. As everyone knows B.J. was all about fun!!!!!!”
Continued DeeDee, “My best memories are of dad and how much he enjoyed the weekend. The way he would get excited when the plans were being made before the event, how much he enjoyed seeing all the guys from year-to-year, and the conversations after the weekend was over.”
“He always made the comment what a nice bunch of guys called Geoff and Jaime friends and I feel proud to know that my sons have established friendships with such fine men, who enjoy coming together year after year for a fun weekend.”
It is no doubt that the Mayor was and is equally proud of the impact his daughters have had on the annual festivities.
“Obviously, since they are my mother and aunt respectively, I’m very close to both,” Geoff said. “I think they both claim most of the regulars as family after all these years. Everyone who has spent more than a few years has developed a nice relationship with both Dee Dee and Charlene. Many thanks to both ladies for years of commitment to the greatest Summer outdoor activity ever!”
“Let’s be honest,” Dude said. “Without them we would either A) all be dead from lack of nutrition and over consumption of alcohol or B) stuck eating jerky and Doritos in the hot sun.”
“Char and DeeDee’s selflessness is unparalleled and we couldn’t’ do it without them,” the commish said. “As a side bonus, they are also beloved by everyone and are a joy to have around throughout the course of the weekend. They certainly got the fun-loving attribute from the Mayor himself.”
In addition to the breakfast sandwiches and cheesy dogs, it is the chase for the championship that dominates conversations throughout podcasts and late into the Friday night before the event. It is a pursuit that has seen the Hixson boys come agonizingly close but narrowly miss. One can only wonder what will happen should Geoff and Jaime square off in the final game.
“I have been watching the championship games for the last few years and seeing neither one of them claim victory. Their comments have always been ‘I had a great time’ so knowing this I would be rooting for both of them,” DeeDee said. “Geoff is one of the most gracious second place finishers in the game and Jaime is so worried about everybody else having a good time a win would make him feel bad for Geoff. So, whatever the outcome of the final game, I would still have two champions.”
While Char would just be happy one of them wins, Geoff Hixson sees a different scenario play out from his mother – possibly due to the feeling that Jaime has been and always will be the favorite son. “In an All-Hixson final, Dee Dee would claim to hope for a tie. Reality is her baby would rate a notch above her first born. She knows the elder will be ok no matter what. She worries about the youngest.”
According to Dude, things may get a bit shakier, “Frankly I’m a little concerned with talk of Wiffle-geddon, those darn Mayans and their calendar ending, dogs and cats living together and it all merging into a Hixson vs. Hixson showdown. It makes my head hurt, but the wiffleball gods although fair can sometimes have a sick sense of humor. I’m calling it now Geoff and Jaime end up on the same team and lose the last game in extras due to an odd wind current. At that point the Hixson clan burns the entire house, field, area and we all move on with our lives as the ashes blow into the water never to be discussed again.
Whatever the case, an always-memorable weekend remains so because of the dedication of so many, none more important than the women who allow so many men to return to boys for a short time each summer.