Football and track star Konnor Fleming ’15 (Charlotte, Vt.) went into last month’s Travis Roy Wiffle Ball Tournament with brother Ryan Fleming ’16 expecting to continue a six-year family tradition and have a fun weekend of competition. However, with his team one out away from sealing a 3-0 victory and a fly ball hit deep to center field that looked to go over the wall, Konnor Fleming made a desperate flip-over-the-fence catch.
His teammates mobbed him in celebration and over the following days, media would mob him as well. Fleming’s “amazing game-ending catch” went #2 on SportsCenter, garnered more than 750,000 YouTube views and became the talk of the country courtesy of Huffington Post, USA Today, CNN and The Today Show.
Held every August at Essex, Vermont’s Little Fenway, a miniature replica of the Boston Red Sox’ hallowed grounds, the Travis Roy Wiffle Ball Tournament serves as one of the primary fundraisers for the Travis Roy Foundation, an organization supporting spinal cord injury research and patients.
The ongoing success of the event is reflected by an expanding tournament field (over 30 teams competed this summer) and a significant increase in money raised. This year’s tournament raised over $500,000, an event record. Fleming said he saw the attention his catch drew as an opportunity to bring further awareness to the cause.
“I’m happy to have had my fifteen minutes of fame, I suppose,” he said. “And happy that it hasn’t been just for me but also to benefit the Travis Roy Foundation.”
Marc Davies, an assistant coach with the football and track and field teams, said he was not shocked by Fleming’s catch and subsequent humility.
“To be honest, I thought it was really cool, but I also was not surprised,” he said. “I mean, it’s typical Konnor. Nothing gets in his way. Not a wall, [nothing].”
“He thinks that anything is possible. He goes after anything that he sets his mind to. He essentially was one of our top recruits because of his character and personality. He’s a phenomenal leader.”
The humble junior said he’s optimistic that he’ll return to the tournament next year.
“I hope they’ll still have me at the tournament,” he said. “I love playing every year. In terms of fundraising, I hope that [the catch] is just something for people to think of the tournament by.”