In 2004 there were few opportunities to play “travel” softball in the Raymond area. The Mikolajczyk’s had two daughters who wanted to compete and experience this new atmosphere, so the trek to Waukesha and Brookfield for a couple of years began. The experience brought a desire to bring this to other local families in the area.
The Aponte’s daughter played on this team, and soon the two families were on the path of developing a local “travel” club in the Raymond community. They were naive and believed it could not be that difficult. 2004-2005 were crazy hard, but they had the tremendous fortune to attract some amazing softball families from the beginning.
Early goals were established; to start an organization that developed great softball players AND good people, to bring “travel” ball opportunity to the local community, to keep fees low and affordable for these kids, and to give all players playing time on the field and at bat. The Wisconsin Twister’s Mission has evolved and has been refined over the years, but those early goals have remained true to today.
Lou Aponte developed a coaching “tree” of many gifted team leaders over the years. Brian and DiAnna Johnson, both Head Coaches, were the first to join and take on additional teams and helped establish a strong balance. The Baumgartner’s joined the following season as additional Coach and Parent Rep. These four families (Aponte’s, Baumgartner’s, Johnson’s, and Mikolajczyks) built the organization of today. They have trained coaches, taught players, game coached, team scheduled, financed, recruited, fund raised, strategized, negotiated and worked fields. The Spring Fling (state qualifier) and Fall Brawl tournaments were introduced to give Twister teams the opportunity to not only play in a local tournament, but provide additional tournaments for teams to participate in from all over Southeast Wisconsin. These two tournaments have been an annual staple for over 13 years.
The organization continued to grow, and as more families stepped up to help with the business of running the Twisters; a Wisconsin Twister Board was established by the four families. With the additions of remarkable volunteer leaders - Kathy Sterling, The Pinkos family, John Lewandowski, The Gemmels, The Michelfelders, The Ballews, Kristy Boyle, the Olle’s, Jim Peltier, and the newest members Janet Mulligan and Ed O’Dwyer.
An estimated 400+ young ladies have passed through our teams, and many have gone on to play and contribute successfully at local high schools and on to become collegiate athletes. While others have come back to give back to where they began. Many have graduated and begun successful careers. They are police officers, pharmacists, physical therapists, nurses, and teachers.
The Twisters, besides teaching softball skills, emphasize growth as members in the community and have given support over the years to many worthy charities. Each year the Wisconsin Twisters bring awareness and have highlighted many social/health issues - Juvenile Diabetes, Congenital Heart Disease, Traumatic Brain Injury, Down Syndrome, Ovarian Cancer, American Veterans and this year Breast Cancer. Playing and bringing an awareness with support throughout each season with annual colors, ribbons, charitable events and tournaments.
Love for the game of softball, love for our community, love of family, and a desire to help others drives this organization, and these principals set us apart. As a founder, I am most proud to see how far this club has “travelled” since its humble beginning in 2004.