Just four months since its inception, the BSM ping pong team completed their inaugural season with monumental success. Starting the season, the administration could not have imagined the sea of players huddling around a dozen tables being hypnotized by the “thwack” of ping pong balls.
The final roster of 70 players went far above expectations at the beginning of the season. Coach Casey Hansen said that the original projection of players was only about 15 or 20.
There are the top 20 positions for the most intense and dedicated players, which leaves those other 50 students to go to practice and enjoy a rousing game of table tennis. “It’s a dream come true,” said sophomore Andrew Poley. “I’ve played ping pong for a few years and now I get to go up against some real ‘playas.'”
Poley flew up through the ranks and landed himself a top ten spot on varsity, and is one of the most promising underclassmen for the future of BSM pong, said Mr. Hansen. Other notable youngbloods mentioned by Mr. Hansen are Eric Gunkle and David Jarvis, both of whom displayed a lot of potential while playing a handful of varsity matches this year.
However, these particular players will have some big shoes to fill. Particularly the size 12 kicks of undisputed #1 Sam Lantz. Lantz, described as “untouchable” by Mr. Hansen, was the driving force behind the Red Knight pong players this year, winning match after match with incomparable ferocity. While Lantz was a standout, #2 Charlie Perrine was also a large contributor. Approaching the season tentatively, Perrine displayed his brute strength early in the season, delivering vicious forehand shots feared by opponents.
The #6 player Andrew Coleman, while not one of the flashiest players, kept his cool at key points in matches. “With the game on the line and under pressure, Coleman would stay cool and come up in the clutch,” said Mr. Hansen.
But ping pong hasn’t reached full-fledged sport status yet. “Right now,” said Mr. Hansen “we’re just a club. But with the popularity of it, it could be a sport in a few years.”
Hansen indicates that a multitude of forms need to be signed and the school has to go through an accreditation process before table tennis is listed as a winter sport. “It’s a lot like lacrosse,” said Hansen. “It began as a club but so many people got into it that in just a few years BOOM it’s a sport.”
When ping pong is granted complete sportdom, they will be able to participate in a league and state tournament, just like every other sport. According to Mr. Hansen, there were 14 teams at this past year’s state tournament, and that number keeps growing every year. Though they would have surely done well, the BSM ping-pong team was not able to participate because of its club status. “Once we get all the forms done and ping pong becomes a sport, I have no doubt that we could go far in state,” said Mr. Hansen.
While the juniors and seniors may not be at BSM to witness table tennis as a sport, in a few years, sophomores and freshmen may soon notice a table tennis paddle on a friend’s letter jacket.