Volunteers Serve to Drive Success of College Table Tennis Championships
By Andy Kanengiser
NCTTA Media Chairman
Scores of volunteers remain valuable assets at collegiate table tennis championships each year.
They handle a variety of important tasks – from scorekeeping to setting up tables. Men and women with a common passion for table tennis work the registration tables and handle video cameras for live streaming. They serve as referees, help with the media, assist with transportation, and take on other tasks behind the scenes.
Nearly 80 NCTTA volunteers from across the USA and Canada pitched in at the 2015 games in Eau Claire, Wisconsin. And about the same number of people will assist at the 2017 TMS collegiate table tennis championships. Many of the same crews will show up at the same venue, the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire campus, and quickly go to work.
“Countless volunteer hours go into planning, organizing, and running the national championships,’’ says NCTTA President Willy Leparulo. “We are always indebted to our volunteers and thank them for generously contributing their time. Without them, there would be no event.’’
Willy’s wife, Shelly Huang Leparulo, ranks among the best in the business as a table tennis volunteer. As waves of student-athletes line up at the registration table, Shelly greets each one with a smile. Many of the 300 college players are weary and hungry after a long day of travel. But Shelly makes them feel welcome upon arrival and works with other volunteers to hand out information packets.
As an NCTTA volunteer, Shelly stays busy at the registration desk and keeps going around the venue until the tournament shuts down. “Her efficiency is off the charts,’’ Willy says.
Thanks to her leadership, Willy doesn’t worry about the registration desk or anything else Shelly takes on.
Volunteers rack up long hours at the NCTTA’s biggest tournament. There are some rewards – from the nice NCTTA polo shirts to seats at Saturday evening’s awards banquet tables. It’s an opportunity to see the games up close and renew friendships.
People like Cyrus Aga, 26, of Montreal, Canada, will be new to the NCTTA team of volunteers in 2017.
A 2013 Western University graduate, a former collegiate table tennis player, and ex-coach, Aga is familiar with the NCTTA landscape.
He’s taking time off from his job at PSP Investments (the Public Sector Pension Investment Board) to help as needed. “I am thrilled to be volunteering at the 2017 Nationals.’’
His tasks will include scorekeeping, assisting with the setup of tables and whatever else comes his way.
At his job, Cyrus focuses on global infrastructure investing at PSP Investments, a $120 billion Canadian pension fund based in Montreal. As a volunteer, he’s worth his weight in gold. At the tournament, he hopes to visit with Kelly Li, who represents Western University in women’s singles and reconnect with coach/volunteer Eunice Chan. (Cyrus is pictured here back in his playing days!)
Volunteering at NCTTA championships is a joy for Ed Toomey. “The NCTTA Championships is one of the best run table tennis events in the country,’’ says the Boston area resident.
After a career in human resource management with a high tech company, Toomy retired seven years ago at age 62. But the New Englander continued to volunteer with U.S. Sailing, the USATT and NCTTA. “Racing sailboats on Boston Harbor and the Mystic Lake near Boston has been a pastime for most of my life.’’
Twenty years ago, Ed got hooked on table tennis by playing during lunch-time at work. He joined the Boston Table Tennis Center, took lessons, and stepped up his game. Over the past seven years, Ed assumed various NCTTA assignments, including running divisional tournaments. Toomey is a National Umpire in table tennis and hopes to get certified as an international umpire next year. His Boston accent is thick, and his passion for the sport remains heavy, too.
Scorekeeper, umpire or the man needed to set up tables, Ralph “Radar’’ Presley of Georgia is a 15-year NCTTA volunteer. He’s served as a former Georgia Division director and coach. Radar devotes much of his time to the ownership of a pro ABA basketball team, the Southwest Warriors, in metro Atlanta.
Presley began playing table tennis as a 12-year-old. Why does he keep coming back to volunteer at NCTTA championships? “Table tennis has been in my blood for over 50 years.’’
Other sports besides table tennis and hoops are on his radar. Ralph Presley remains an avid bowler.
The 2017 TMS College Table Tennis Championships is hosted by the National Collegiate Table Tennis Association and the Eau Claire CVB and is one of the premier table tennis tournaments in North America featuring 6 events: Men’s and Women’s Singles and Doubles, and Men’s/Coed Teams, Women’s Teams. The event is sponsored by TMS International, Gerflor, Double Fish
Players and spectators alike will enjoy a jam-packed weekend of table tennis at the TMS College Table Tennis Championships. The event starts Friday April 7th and continues through Sunday April 9th.
The National Collegiate Table Tennis Association (NCTTA) is a non-profit organization established exclusively for promoting the sport of table tennis at the college level. As the national governing body for college table tennis in the United States and Canada, NCTTA organizes intercollegiate competition throughout North America. www.nctta.org
About USA Table Tennis
Headquartered in Colorado Springs, USATT is the national organizing body for table tennis in the United States, serving 9,000+ members and nearly 300 clubs. USATT sanctions 200+ events a year including the US Open and US Nationals. USATT is affiliated with the International Table Tennis Federation (ITTF), as well as the United States Olympic Committee (USOC). www.usatt.org