Wepa! WooSox win Copa de la Diversión
ORLANDO, Florida -- What started as a fan suggestion in 2020 led to a championship in 2021. The Worcester Red Sox were named winners of the Copa de la Diversión event series for their Los Wepas identity, receiving the recognition and the "Fun Cup” at the Baseball Winter Meetings Major
ORLANDO, Florida -- What started as a fan suggestion in 2020 led to a championship in 2021.
The Worcester Red Sox were named winners of the Copa de la Diversión event series for their Los Wepas identity, receiving the recognition and the "Fun Cup” at the Baseball Winter Meetings Major Fun Awards on Sunday night.
“It was a name that first was a little overlooked until we started discussing more about what it meant and the positivity around it,” said Brooke Cooper, Worcester’s vice president of marketing and merchandising. “The more we learned about how the word 'Wepas' is used and all the excitement around it, the flexibility with it, it just seemed like a natural fit.”
While there’s no direct translation, the term is often used to express excitement, like when hitting a home run or running into an old friend. And for the Triple-A Red Sox affiliate, a team that adopted a smiley face as a mascot, "Wepa" was an extension of that positive energy. Add in a smiling rocket -- a nod to the local birthplace of rocket fuel -- and the Wepas brand was born.
The WooSox formed an advisory committee with leaders from the local government and the Massachusetts-based Latin American Business Association (LABO). At the direction of the committee, Worcester celebrated a different country at each Wepas game.
“They were so crucial in all of the planning for our Wepas games,” Cooper said. “They were helping to pull in nonprofits to be honored, they were bringing flags to the stadium and setting up singers for the (American) National Anthem, but also the anthem for the country that we were celebrating that game.
“All this feels like such a victory for not only us, but our Wepa advisory committee, who were so essential in thinking as a whole with the program.”
Starting with a virtual launch in 2020, fans haven't gotten enough of the Wepas brand. Cooper said she can’t recall any negative response as the overwhelming feedback matched the positivity of the identity. People from across the country immediately wanted to be a part of the action, and it wasn’t long before the club sold $100,000 in merchandise.
“And to this day… we can’t keep Wepas hats on the shelves,” Cooper said.
Copa de la Diversión launched in 2017 as a unique way for Minor League clubs to embrace the culture and values of Hispanic fans in their communities. Triple-A Albuquerque was crowned the first champs with their Mariachis de Nuevo México identity in 2018, then became back-to-back champs in 2019. No Fun Cup was handed out in 2020 due to the canceled Minor League season.
Many of the WooSox staff participated in Copa since 2018 as Pawtucket’s Osos Polares before the franchise moved to Worcester for the 2021 season.
“We believe strongly in the program,” Cooper said. “It's so rewarding to see that come full circle for us and to receive this award just because I think that we -- in moving to Worcester -- worked really hard to maintain a community organization and through a partnership with our Wepa advisory committee, it just really feels like such a victory for all of us.”
And the fan with the bright idea got his moment in the spotlight, too -- Daniel Velasquez got to throw out the first pitch at the opening Wepas game.
Kelsie Heneghan is a writer for MiLB.com. Follow her on Twitter @Kelsie_Heneghan.