Peace through ping pong

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Sweaty palms, intense eyes and the sound of ping pong balls bouncing off tables and paddles fills the Wilkinson Student Center Terrace on Tuesday nights.

However, there is more to the BYU Ping Pong Club than just Tuesday-night fun and games. The leaders of the club have goals and a mission in mind to help spread the love of ping pong worldwide.

“We are in the process of digging out the underground culture of ping pong at BYU,” said Rob Nielsen, vice president of the ping pong club. “We want to raise money through reaching out to individuals who love the sport of ping pong and don’t know how to express it. We plan on selling wristbands and T-shirts and holding tournaments to help raise money to donate ping pong balls and paddles to kids in (war-torn) countries and places like Yemen and Algeria.”

Nielsen also said that leaders of the ping pong club started to collaborate with students from the engineering department at BYU to create a composite table that weighs about a pound to easily ship overseas.

“If you are passionate about a cause and making the world a better place, then the ping pong club is the place for you,” Nielsen said.

The BYU Ping Pong Club originated in 2004 and started off with just a few tables, ping pong balls and rubber paddles. As the club grew, it received higher-quality tables and equipment for players to enjoy.

Members of the BYU Ping Pong Club meet every Tuesday night from 7 to 10 p.m. to practice and perfect their skills. They welcome everyone with or without experience.

“We have the tables, the balls and the paddles. Just come play and enjoy,” said Colten Brandenburg from Everett, Wash., president of the BYU Ping Pong Club. “The club has all types of levels of players, so there is good competition for those who grew up playing as well as fun and learning for those who want to achieve some level of skill in the sport.”

Not only is no skill required to join the club, there are no club dues or fees. People can just come and play and take a quick break from studying.

“I love ping pong,” said Spencer Hafen, a freshman from Farmington, and a new member of the ping pong club. “I needed a way to meet new people and make new friends. Ping pong is a good way to do that. It’s good exercise, and it’s just a fun time.”

For some players, ping pong can help relieve stress. Brandenburg prefers playing ping pong over working out, running or any other form of exercise to cope with the stress of a hectic schedule.

“There are questions from some who wonder how someone can get a workout from ping pong,” Brandenburg said. “To them, I ask for 30 minutes of intense play and see if they are sweating by the end of it.”

Getting a good workout and learning life lessons are some of the benefits of joining the ping pong club. Hafen enjoys losing because he says he learns more when he loses.

“People should join the ping pong club if they value hard work, want to learn how to continue after a loss and just want to enjoy a stress-free night,” Nielsen said.