Thanks to everyone NCTTA/USATT members, players, alumni, volunteers, staff that showed up to support, ask questions and further understand the current situation with NCTTA and USATT. We are lucky to be at the negotiating table because of you! Thank you!!!
As promised the NCTTA Slides as well as the attached emails are here:
NGB - National Governing Body
NCTTA - National Collegiate Table Tennis Association
USATT - USA Table Tennis
USOPC - United States Olympic & Paralympic Committee
USOC - United States Olympic Committee
USATT's Motion - Among other changes, removes the National Org Director (until now, was seated by NCTTA). This proposal will close on Feb 17th.
The USATT/NCTTA Relationship History
The National Collegiate Table Tennis Association (NCTTA) is a non-profit organization dedicated to the promotion of College Table Tennis. NCTTA's core belief is to support and promote table tennis through service and volunteerism.
NCTTA has always believed that a good relationship with USATT, our sport’s National Governing Body (NGB), is paramount. In 2008 NCTTA got a chance to strengthen the relationship with USATT by being placed on a new board. New bylaws allowed for NCTTA to apply formally to be a National Organization Representative. Our request was granted by USOPC’s Chris Vadala (known as 'USOC' at that time) and approved by the USATT Nominating and Governance committee.
This relationship didn’t happen overnight. There have been thousands of people involved since the 1990’s in nurturing and growing this relationship with USA Table Tennis.
In 2020, the relationship between NCTTA and USATT hit some bumps. Communication was strained. At first, we thought that there were no targeted efforts against us. Problem was, certain things started to happen.
First, NCTTA was removed from the USATT website as a "partner" (click here to see the website as it was in early 2020, and now click here to see the website in its current form). Why? We actively promoted our USATT club membership to our college table tennis clubs via a USATT website that is now erased (click here for how it was and click here to see that the link does not exist anymore. We received no explanation other than there was a website update. We interpret NCTTA’s erasure from USATT’s website to be the start of the end of what was once a productive and mutually beneficial relationship.
Second, there was a USOPC media intern at the same time who was also an NCTTA media person. They were let go (terminated) in May because of their affiliation with NCTTA. This was verified by former USATT staff. This intern was an unnecessary victim caught in USATT’s hostility toward NCTTA that is now becoming increasingly apparent.
Moreover, an interview from USATT’s Mark Thompson with NCTTA President Willy Leparulo, was recorded for their video segment known as “Pong Positive”. USATT CEO, Virginia Sung contacted Leparulo and said, “Willy, We would like to do an interview with you, and to share your experience during this uncertain time and how that has impacted NCTTA’s events, and what kind of suggestions you have for us to build strength within our table tennis community collectively.” Though recorded and presumably ready-to-go, it was cut from publication at the last minute for unremarked reasons.
As the summer continued, NCTTA was stonewalled by USATT’s legal counsel (forbidden to speak to anyone in USATT directly), and consistently ignored by five new board members. Somehow, despite the lack of communication (or any effort at communication), there was a “determination” made by the USATT (in a meeting no one knew about) to strip NCTTA of its National Organization Director, which, as noted previously, was awarded legitimately in 2007/2008. In addition, there were no official meeting minutes documenting any discussion about the “determination”, nor any notice of the meeting as required by USATT bylaws.
USATT therefore removed NCTTA from its board in violation of its own rules, which one might say was an innocent mistake made by new members - however, given the escalating maliciousness USATT displayed as 2020 unfolded, any reasonable person would find this difficult to believe.
Now, there is a motion on the floor made by the USA Table Tennis Board of Directors that removes the chance of the National Organization member position from being filled without it being a bylaw controversy while the remainder of our relationship lies in broken pieces.
After 8 months of attempts at mediation from our end, we decided to stand up for ourselves. Yes, NCTTA put in a grievance against the USA Table Tennis last September (2020), hoping that they would stop bullying our organization and to ultimately salvage the relationship between USATT and NCTTA. Rather than responding to the grievance for what it was, this motion appears to be their response.
Currently proposed motion:
This bylaw proposed by the USA Table Tennis Board of Directors removes NCTTA from a position that was awarded legitimately - this time by eliminating the position. NCTTA has been silent about this for almost a year out of respect for what we thought was a relationship that could be saved. Perhaps we were too naive.
USATT’s Current bylaws state that there can only be 9 board members, USOPC, however, is requiring ⅓ to be athlete reps (i.e. 3 athlete reps). This motion says 10 board members are allowed but in the same breath also says that only 3 athlete reps are allowed. Adding this 10th board member is both legal and illegal per the bylaws: 'If you add a 10th board member, then you MUST add a 4th athlete rep in order to be compliant with [Section 7.5] but this is also not possible, as the bylaws only permit 3 athlete reps. '
The strategy by USATT here is nakedly obvious:
- hope no one reads the proposed changes closely enough,
- then “discover” the inconsistency in the rules,
- and decide not to add NCTTA to the board because it wouldn’t be explicitly against the rules to deny them the seat.
This motion says ultimately that we, passionate volunteers, “don’t matter”.
To everyone reading this including the board of directors at USA Table Tennis, ask why they are investing all of this effort to remove a small organization filled with USATT members - members who volunteer their time for the benefit of college table tennis and the general table tennis community! Ask why it is in USATT’s best interest to divide the sport and create a problem where none previously existed.
We have forged connections and relationships with the community at large in USA Table Tennis and it isn't to make a political statement to you here, it is because this is what we do. Look at the USA Table Tennis board for example where we have relationships with 4 out of the 8 board members:
- Yijun "Tom" Feng was the NCTTA Athlete of the year and wrote a riveting testimonial supporting NCTTA.
- Dan Reynolds served as the NCTTA South Region Director and South Texas Division Director and umpired many of our tournaments including the USATT 5 star sanctioned National Championships
- Thomas Hu co-founded what later became NCTTA in the early 1990’s.
- Will Shortz has been an avid and passionate supporter of table tennis and has been a supporter of NCTTA for many years.
We have, in NCTTA, a tradition of service and volunteerism to our sport: NCTTA is an integral and passionate part of the USATT landscape and pipeline.
USA Table Tennis Pipeline:
Junior→College→Lifetime sport participant, elite athlete, or both!
To push us out destroys and divides the community, and creates ill will where it is completely unnecessary and distracting from our broader shared mission of promoting our sport.
We want to continue to grow the sport, not just collegiately, but to the broader public - as we have been for the past 13 years in true partnership with USATT.
In their words: "The USATT Board of Directors seeks member comment on proposed amendments to the Bylaws" - and is due Feb 17th.
We hope you will lend us your support.
NCTTA Board of Directors
So we challenged our NCTTA poetry master, Mike Reff to rhyme Pongcast and Nittaku thinking it would be impossible....how wrong were we lol
Check out the Pongcast: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qJ1x5M6EnQ4 (familiar voice, NCTTA ALUM, Adam Bobrow)
I know sometimes I can be a verbal bombast,
But I’ve been challenged to rhyme something with pongcast.
With the voice of table tennis, and sponsored by Nittaku,
NCTTA Alum Adam Bobrow rocks the mic through.
Touching on subjects like world rankings and future competitions,
2021’s looking brighter with WTT’s broader vision.
Another newsworthy moment is the group of foreign players,
That ponged in China’s Super League and provided further diplomatic layers.
One such player, NCTTA’s very own alum Lily Zhang,
Three-time Olympian star and collegiate, the very essence of passion for pong.
Channeling the Berkeley Bears and her own team USA,
She uttered out another cry for the Super League “Go Team Koala!” all the way!
Due to the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, the National Collegiate Table Tennis Association (NCTTA) has canceled its entire 2020-21 season. The Collegiate Table Tennis Championships at the Round Rock Sports Center will not be held this year. The safety of our student-athletes and volunteers remains the highest priority.
The NCTTA is evaluating all options for a potential summer off-season competition, and is eagerly awaiting the beginning of our 2021-22 season. More announcements will follow shortly. The NCTTA wants to thank all of our sponsors, volunteers and athletes for their support. We are excited and remain optimistic for the 2021-22 season. Please reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any questions.
Thank you again for all of your ongoing support and understanding through these challenging times. We hear you and are very encouraged by your affirmation of our past decisions to put safety first - as we look on to make the present ones.
-NCTTA Board of Directors
COVID-19 has shut down our normal way of life and if you find yourself on Amazon "perusing" as we all do we hope you think about NCTTA!
Most Everyone uses Amazon and if you wouldn't mind signing up with "Smile Amazon" a portion of whatever you spend goes to NCTTA. It is Amazon for not-for-profits like NCTTA!
If you don't use Amazon, you may simply consider donating by clicking here
NCTTA has its own "poet laureate", NCTTA Alum from Hofstra and Florida State University (Michael "Mike" Reff).
For all in Table Tennis struggling with not being able to play/train/compete because of COVID...this is for you!
We know you're hurting
You all are yearning
To play our favorite sport again,
And though you're ready,
Fall semester's not steady,
Unfortunately, till Spring we wait then.
So what are you doing?
Spare time is accruing,
And though it is hard to get in those ponging hours.
Through practice and fitness,
Recruiting hype vids, we'll beat this,
Make lemonade from those lemons so sour.
Hello NCTTA College Table Tennis athletes, coaches, staff, and fans.
These are unprecedented times that we are currently living in. The Pandemic has proved that we must make difficult decisions and this is one of them. On behalf of the NCTTA Board of Directors, we are suspending the Fall 2020 semester of sanctioned NCTTA play. There will be no division tournaments in NCTTA for the Fall 2020 semester.
We consulted with legal counsel, medical staff for advice, and insurance carriers prior to making our decision. It is in the best interest and safety of all of our athletes, coaches, and staff that we suspend our Fall 2020 season. No decision has been made for the Spring 2021 Division, Regional, and National Championships as of yet. We are, of course, hopeful to continue the season then. The 2021 iSET College Table Tennis Championships is set to be at Round Rock, Texas April 8-10th weekend (see picture of a past year in Round Rock). We truly hope for the best moving forward.
NCTTA will hold monthly "town halls" for coaches and club contacts during the Fall semester to catch up with those who want more information or have questions.
Thanks for your understanding and support
NCTTA Board of Directors
By Andy Kanengiser
NCTTA Media Chair
Ian Phillip Seidenfeld suffers from a medical disorder affecting all four limbs to require multiple corrective surgeries on his legs.
The 18-year-old University of Minnesota freshman is passionate about table tennis. Ian's played the Olympic sport since he was an 11-year-old para player at a San Diego tournament. Fast forward to 2020, and Ian qualified for the 2021 Tokyo Paralympics. Ian is ranked No. 3, U-23 and #16 among all in class 6.
"I'm excited that I qualified, Qualifying is an important step towards my ultimate goal, and I hope to accomplish much more next year in Tokyo,'' Seidenfeld said.
Ian Seidenfeld representing USA Table Tennis Â© Sportida (Celje, 2018)
Also selected for the Tokyo Paralympics: Tahl Leibovitz, the ex-NYU standout, and Jenson Van Emburgh, a talented Naples, Florida native, the USATT announced in July. Jenson is No. 1 in the world, U-23, and #11 among all in class 3 and will attend Florida Southern in the Fall 2020, while Tahl is No. 10 in the world in class 9, reports USA Table Tennis in their July announcement.
Jenson, 20, is a class 3 wheelchair athlete who has a spinal cord injury that happened at birth. He tried sports like sled hockey, wheelchair tennis and wheelchair basketball before discovering table tennis. He was chosen to the U.S. Junior Para National Team for five straight years.
"We are all very proud of Team USA players. Tahl will have a chance to fight for another Paralympic gold,'' said Jasna Rather, USATT Director of Para Programs.
For Tahl, the 45-year-old New Yorker is entering his sixth Paralympic games. "I think this will be the best ever. I am looking forward to an amazing experience with my teammates.''
Tahl in his playing days at NYU!
Tahl thanked his wife, family and coaches. He will train every day until the games begin. "It's always an honor to represent the United States,'' Leibovitz said. The social worker is a member of the PING Pod club.
Leibovitz looks forward to teaming with Jenson and Ian. "I think we have a good chance to do very well. Ian is a great competitor and good fighter. We have one year to get fully ready. I am looking forward to the Team USA preparation.''
For Ian, it's been a lengthy journey that's taken much hard work and determination. Seidenfeld suffers from pseudoachondroplasia dwarfism.
Fast forward to 2017, and Ian began training for the Paralympics for table tennis. It's been a pretty positive run ever since.
In November 2017, Ian played at the ParaPanama Championships to qualify for the 2018 World Championships. "I played the tournament with broken legs held together by the metal detectors implanted to correct my legs. I finished 2nd in the tournament and later qualified for the 2018 SPINT World Championships by my ranking.''
Ian, who grew up in Lakeville, Minnesota, and attended the University of Minnesota this past season, wasn't done competing. The 2019 Para Panam Games was next and he qualified for the Tokyo games. The Paralympics was moved from 2020 to 2021 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Ian considers 2017 to be his breakout year because he began it ranked 31st in the world in men's Class six. He finished the year ranked 12th in the world in class six. To elevate his ranking, he won the 2017 Spanish Open Class six singles and Bayreuth Open Class six singles.
University of Minnesota table tennis coach John Tranter has known Ian quite well. John's table tennis coach, Mitchell Seidenfeld, is Ian's father. Mitchell has four medals from Paralympic games, including gold in Barcelona in 1992.
"Ian and Mitch have an incredible relationship,'' John Tranter said. "It's not easy to have a parent as a coach. But there is no one better positioned to be a great mentor to Ian than Mitch.''
Tranter appreciates what Ian Seidenfeld brings to the University of Minnesota Table Tennis Club. "He is always the first to volunteer to contribute to the behind the scenes aspects of running any club,'' from fundraising to grant writing. "His affable personality has made him indispensable in maintaining a positive culture within our club and team.''
Ian in the center with his University of Minnesota teammates at the recent 2020 NCTTA Midwest Regionals
By Michael Reff
Matt Hetherington has been a table tennis mainstay in the United States for several years in the coaching and media fields. Originally hailing from New Zealand, Hetherington started playing when he was 8 years old, and reached a pinnacle of achievement by representing his country in the World Champs on three occasions. For quite some time Hetherington was USATT's Media and Communications director, but he recently moved on from the position on March 1st of this year. He says he was "supposed to be moving on to another opportunity in table tennis," but the pandemic unfortunately put a damper on that prospect.
Still, Hetherington has been keeping himself very productive while in quarantine and in almost complete isolation for close to 3 months. "The first couple of weeks all I could really do was work out every day and I did my best to start going nuts on my social media," he noted. This included bringing up old blog posts on his website and creating new coaching videoss by successfully challenging himself to produce 30 tutorials in 30 days.
All in all he created 44 coaching tutorial videos ranging many topics from serve and receive to short pimple play and chopping.
The pandemic isolation period has left him feeling nostalgic about many areas of table tennis, his NCTTA experiences being among them.
Before becoming involved with NCTTA as a commentator, Hetherington was already briefly a student-athlete in 2017 for Pillar College alongside the likes of Olympians Tim Wang and Lily Yip. He reached the Nationals that school year and placed 5th in the team event, reaching the quarterfinals in the doubles with Wang and the last 32 in the singles. His lasting memories with the experience fueled his ambition to commit to helping the national event each year. Although Hetherington discontinued his studies, he longed to return. "I feel like college table tennis is quite a significant part of the culture of the sport in this country," he stated, "having experienced it first hand, it was something I really wanted to continue to be a part of."
He commentated in the 2018 and 2019 Nationals and was committed to return in 2020 before the eventual cancellation.
Hetherington plans to reprise his role as commentator for NCTTA during the 2021 Champs held in Round Rock, Texas. He says that a positive aspect of commentating with the volunteer organization is that you get to work with many diverse people. Also, he observes that many of the NCTTA commentators have volunteered with NCTTA for a long time. "In the beginning I felt like it was a really good opportunity to try and improve the relationship between USATT and NCTTA," Hetherington said. "I felt that there was a lot of value in building the partnership there and I genuinely see that College Table Tennis has all the elements that this sport needs to grow in the USA - the team atmosphere, the promotion of table tennis in schools and the continuation of table tennis competition during college study."
Yes, being in the thick of things while observing and participating in the ubiquitous #loudnproud cheering by schools is quite the invigorating experience for volunteers and players alike.
Hetherington holds NCTTA in high esteem, considering it to possess an excellent "blueprint structure to look at when thinking about regionalization or a professional league" for table tennis in the USA. He says NCTTA's qualification system and geographical progression from divisionals to regionals and then nationals along with the team aspect of college table tennis is what make it a worthy ponging paradigm to emulate in the long run.
And regarding other NCTTA volunteers who work tirelessly to promote college table tennis, Hetherington said, "At the end of the day you need people who are passionate enough who will put in that amount of work and are satisfied purely with having pulled off the end result, as a volunteer organization I can see that the NCTTA has the right people involved."
As coaching for Hetherington soon returns to the Lily Yip TTC with pandemic restrictions being lifted, we wish him the safest and most productive return to the sport we all love. Tune in April 2021 at Round Rock, Texas to hear and watch Matt Hetherington commentate along with the rest of our stellar volunteer staff!