With paddles flailing at every turn, FSCJ students showed there’s no need to wait for next year’s Olympics to enjoy the rapid pace of table tennis. Pingpong lovers from across FSCJ’s campuses gathered at the North Campus Student Life and Leadership Development office for the school’s table tennis championship Tuesday, Feb. 17.
The prizes were small–a pair of movie tickets for the overall winner and a ticket apiece for the second-place and third-place finishers–but for participating students, the biggest rewards didn’t come with a price tag. “People like competition. They enjoy table tennis because it gives them a chance to get out, meet some other students, have some camaraderie,” said Kerry Roth, North Campus student engagement coordinator. Roth said the college has held the intramural event regularly for more than a decade.
Eight players tested their skill, agility and stamina in the three-round knockout competition. As they found out, the intensity stepped up a couple of notches from the relaxed pace of play in Student Life buildings. “Normally, when we play for fun after class, there’s not really anything at stake,” said South Campus student Tyson Lossen, who reached the semifinal stage. “But it’s pretty cool that there’s a tournament to play for.”
This time, a real table tennis veteran took home the top prize. Sixty-year-old Joel Trotter matched his younger opponents shot for shot, blasting through the competition with precise technique. Trotter said he has played the sport off and on for much of his life. “When I was coming up, it was one of my favorite activities around the house,” he said. “We had a ping pong table, so we all got pretty good at it.” Now, he considers it an invigorating way to stay in shape. Make no mistake: Table tennis might sound relaxing, but reacting to serves and placing shots is a serious workout. “It’s a good activity because it helps with a person’s hand-eye coordination, obviously. It’s good for your manual dexterity, it’s very good for your cardiovascular [health] because you’re moving so much,” he said.
FSCJ typically holds an additional college-wide competition during the fall semester. It’s one more opportunity to bring together students young and old. “I enjoy the competition,” said Trotter. “These young guys just keep me active, keep me going.”