Tag Archives: charpope

Thanks for the Memories…


IMG_5106From the Desk of the Commissioner:

Hard to believe that after 20 years of Shangri La’ Wiffleball, we have concluded the final chapter.  This is meant to be an epilogue after the last-ever SLW Classic on Bernard J. Alblinger Field.

With Wifflegeddon (a.k.a. SLW 20) in the books, it is very strange to think that our group will never descend on Lakefront Stadium again.  Sadly, “The Mayor” wasn’t able to see the grand finale.  No doubt his spirit was present throughout and as we wrapped up on June 23, 2013.

Some quick-hitters on Wifflegeddon:

  • The tournament format has seen multiple iterations, but none better than the winner-take-all post-season event that we debuted this year (thanks Jed).
  • Thursday night’s screening of Twenty Weekends at Lakefront was better live with the entire group than I think Tank or I could have ever imagined.  A still evening, great sound system and a top-notch viewing experience next to the lake was a perfect crescendo leading into the curtain call for the Shangri La’ Classic.2013-06-20 21.50.55
  • The farewell effort by Tenacious E Friday night was absolutely magical on several levels.  While Wanted Dead or Alive was the pinnacle of the performance, Stu’s Song, Fall to Pieces, Tribute, The Gambler and even Call Me Maybe provided some entertainment variety not previously experienced by wifflers.  IMG_5083
  • The camaraderie in 2013 left me reflecting on all the previous years of late nights, amazing stories, long-lasting phrases and inside jokes we’ve created more than ever.
  • The effort by the family and wifflers on-site (and leading up to the event) for one final time was incredible.

Many have experienced SLW over the lengthy history of the event.  We’ve had one-timers along side twenty-year veterans, friends who have become family and a core group that have had experiences that will never be forgotten.  Although the memories are countless, the lore created on the hallowed ground of Shangri La’ will no doubt live on forever.

I was fortunate to have take the reigns of a very unique tradition started by Geoff Hixson & Spence Hasler in 1998.  The pieces were in place to build SLW into something that, I believe, has become bigger than anyone ever expected.  With the guidance of my brother and along with the support of Dee Dee, Jim and Char, we worked to bring in as many people who wanted to be involved “under the tent” to share ideas, create new avenues of communication, contribute unique talents  and get to where we ultimately ended up.  No one will dispute that the advances allowed for renewed or expanded interest in the annual Shangri La’ Classic.

The entire event has been well documented and rehashed on multiple occasions.  We have all come a long way since the inaugural tournament in 1994.  Years have passed and we’ve grown from kids to young adults to family men.  Things have changed, but the core group of SLW has not.

For all of the memories this event produced, here is a snapshot of the ones I will miss the most:

  • Driving in the first night from the airport and seeing the family for the first time.
  • The “record scratch” feeling when our large and loud crew rolls into the Little Nugget.
  • Anticipation for the true start of the event after the annual Old/Young Game when Home Run Derby begins.
  • The stillness of the evenings every night at SL in the moments where we break from the nonsense.
  • Friends and family around for every waking moment all in one place for a couple of days.
  • Overly serious conversations intermingled with fantastically absurd exchanges.
  • The smell, the sounds and the ambiance of the land around Cabin 12 at Shangri La’.
  • The willingness to help out by all involved when needed.
  • The stories and dynamite drop-ins.
  • The sadness when we reach the latter part of the final day and the end is near.

Seemingly so much hyperbole in the text I’ve written above.  That being said, I sincerely mean ALL of it to the degree which I expressed it in print.

Although not as clean as the Green Day version of “Good Riddance” so appropriately performed by Tenacious E on Friday night, I most definitely hope you all did not have a bad time.  In fact, I trust you had a superb time.

We could not have done this without you.  Alexander Graham Bell was the one who said “When one door closes, another opens.”  I hope that quote means something when I say stay tuned for the next generation of Shangri La’ Wiffleball in the coming years.

Until then and from the bottom of my heart, thanks to all SLW contributors for all you have done from 1994 until the end.

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The Ladies of SLW; the Straws That Stir the Drink


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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.”

Wifflegeddon?

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.

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