By Andy Kanengiser
NCTTA Media Chairman
Volunteers play a crucial role at NCTTA tournaments all season long. And that’s going to be true at the 2016 national championships in Round Rock, Texas.
“We love our volunteers,’’ says NCTTA President Willy Leparulo. “There would be no tournaments without their help. We are thrilled to see so many outstanding volunteers join the cause with us in the Lone Star State.’’
At the March 25-27 tournament near Austin, Leparulo estimates there will be a solid team of 60 volunteers coming from the Austin Table Tennis Club along with people connected with the University of Texas table tennis team. Toss in 40 more leaders from NCTTA circles, and that’s a grand total of 100 volunteers to ensure that things run smoothly in Round Rock.
Volunteers come from Texas and from far away points. They travel from California and hail from New England down south to Florida. As they do every year, the delightful Iowa City couple of Jarol & Leah Duerksen will serve the NCTTA championships by staffing the practice table area for the visiting college players.
Volunteers do everything from operating video cameras to showcase the 250-plus players on live streaming to working behind the scenes at registration tables. They serve as game umpires, write stories, set up tables, sell programs, promote Round Rock & Austin area attractions and much more. Volunteers also want to make sure there are plenty of smiles on the faces of players and fans at the Round Rock Sports facility in late March. Some volunteers serve as subs to give colleagues a breather during the three-day event.
“We are super excited about the 2016 TMS College Table Tennis Championships coming to our backyard,’’ says Marguerite Cheung, operations manager for the Austin Table Tennis Club.
The Austin Table Tennis Club in the capital city is stepping up to supply well-trained umpires. At least ten men and women have passed the umpire exam and will be available for umpiring duties. The list includes Glen Liu, Clayton Pavlicek, Dean Ginther, Nirajan Sivaraman, Stanley Tang, Phil Lahman, Kym Stasinowsky, Johnny Gamez, Rick Mueller and Marguerite Cheung. These are some of the many unsung heroes of the NCTTA’s biggest and best tournament of the year. The list continues to grow. University of Texas Austin which is a team in the event even has three of its club members organizing their troops to add more to the volunteer crew. Pulack Goswami, Sanjana Gupta and Chris Lee are leading that charge.
Countless volunteer hours go into planning, organizing and running the championships from one year to the next. That was the case a year ago for the games in Eau Claire, Wisconsin, near Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania in 2014, Rockford, Illinois in 2013 and Plano, Texas in 2012. NCTTA leaders will look over bids submitted by an April 1 deadline to decide the site of the 2017 championships.
But first thing’s first. Growing up in Taiwan, and going off to graduate school in Calgary, Canada to study French Literature, Cheung is thrilled to see the 2016 championship games come so near to her hometown in Texas. She’s served as operations manager with the Austin Table Tennis Club since 2013. An ITTF certified coach, she’s passionate about the Olympic sport of table tennis. In the real world, Marguerite Cheung works as a teacher and Chinese language interpreter for the county courts and hospitals.
Cheung applauds fellow table tennis volunteers like her good friend Conrad Song of the Austin Table Tennis Club. “He’s our most dedicated volunteer in the club,’’ she says of the USTT certified regional umpire. “He’s the best and the kindest person you would ever meet.’’
The sea of volunteers coming from Texas and around the nation should make for a wonderful tournament, Leparulo says. In agreement is Round Rock Convention & Visitors Bureau Director Nancy Yawn, who’s helping make the visitors feel at home during their stay. “We can’t wait to show the competitors from around the country our friendly Texas hospitality,’’ Yawn said.
While in Round Rock, visitors are encouraged to see the many attractions the city offers – from the Chisholm Trail to the Bass Pro Shops and dine at its diverse supply of restaurants, including barbecue, Italian and Chinese dishes. Round Rock sits 15 miles north of the state Capitol at Austin. Let the games begin!
The 2016 TMS College Table Tennis Championships is hosted by the National Collegiate Table Tennis Association and the Round Rock 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, and Joola.
Players and spectators alike will enjoy a jam-packed weekend of table tennis at the TMS College Table Tennis Championships. The event starts Friday March 25th and continues through Sunday March 27th at the Round Rock Sports Center
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