Monday, February 26

In Honor of Kate

I've been out of the "team sport" phase of my life for now nearly seven years, therefore, I've had to find different types of sports to enjoy. Last week it was bowling and racket ball, but before that, in the piedmont of North Carolina, it was disc golf, hiking, and mountain biking. Upon reflecting about these 'alternative' sports, my memory of another, far superior, sport came to mind. One in which I devoted hours of my life to when I was in college. One that consumed my mind in any spare moment of the day. One that, after much discussion with Kate (my softball teammate and dear friend), we both would have given up our softball scholarship to be trained and conditioned for. This sport, in most cases, is probably not even considered a sport. But to Kate, to me, and even to Forest Gump, ping pong, better known as table tennis, is, most certainly, a sport!

I can't really describe the magnetism I felt from this game. But I found myself migrating toward the game room at IWU between classes, during chapel, after dinner, and most commonly in the middle of studying. It wouldn't take but a side-long glance at Kate, and we'd both be grabbing our personal paddles (purchased soon after discovering our obsession with the sport) and heading across campus toward our destination. A destination full of the familiar sounds of others akin to ping pong: laughing, shouting, and mostly pinging and ponging.

Many conversations Kate and I had across the ping pong table. Many new faces we met in the game room. Many competitive battles won and lost. Many cheap shots played. It wasn't long until Kate and I knew all of the ping pongers on campus. I remember Bernie, an awkward boy who wouldn't play against anyone unless they used his personal ping pong ball. The ball, he would carefully pull from a leather case that also housed his precious paddle. He was well known in the ping pong circle.

I grieve when thinking about the fate of ping pong in America. The tables are disappearing from basements around the country. They are being replaced by the likes of foos ball and billiard tables, home theaters, and poker tables. What is happening to this sport that brought so much entertainment and laughter to my life in my college years?

7 comments:

Evan said...

Scott Abercrombie and I want a rematch...

Lana Joy said...

I don't know why most of us in the family love this sport so much. Perhaps it's because it was the only sporty activity we could play in the house, and, oddly enough, I could actually compete in this game. I actually had a chance of winning sometimes.

Maybe it was the hours I spent practicing by myself, with the flipped up 2nd half of the table. Or the hours spent using the white lines as roads and the green table as fields and yards for my Maple Town and Little People cities.

Whatever it is, I, too, feel a magnetism to this game. Elaine and I used to play in college at the Union. We had so much fun, until the CT (carpal tunnel) inflamed from holding the paddle, disallowing me to brush my teeth and hair. At that point, personal hygiene had to take precedence.

Beka said...

if you ever settle down in one place for longer than 6 months again, i just may be compelled to buy you a ping pong table. how's that for motivation? come back to the south, my friend. we miss you!

KateS said...

Good times! It was fun beating the boys at ping pong, don't know if it was our skill set or the fact that they had never been that close to a live, human girl, but we rocked the IWU intramural ping-pong circuit! Miss those days....thanks for the memories!

Kristi said...

I too am a "basement" ping pong player! I have such fond memories of thinking that I was finally going to be good enough to beat my dad ~ I never did. Thanks for taking me back to the "glory days" for a few minutes with this post!
Kristi

Brooks said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Brooks said...

Oh the memories! Tall Paul, Mike and I would battle out after every lunch and dinner. It started out with the rather slow play, but then it became ferocious. We discovered the secrets of the game - back spin, top spin, unreturnable serves and FUBARed balls! No longer did we hug the table for we stood 5'-10' behind trying to recover balls whose speed seemed to break the sound barrier. We spent hours after meals trying to perfect our games! I remember we played a few heated ping pong matches. I'm sure the stakes were high - bragging rights or food from the Wild Cat. After Beka warms your house, let know me and we can have a rematch!