By Andy Kanengiser
NCTTA Media Chair
Volunteers from across the USA and Canada are a driving force helping make the NCTTA’s championships a success from one year to the next
That’s been the case when the collegiate table tennis tournaments were played in Illinois, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and Texas in recent years. And dozens of dedicated volunteers should shine again when they perform a variety of tasks at the 2019 championships. The games are set for Greensboro, North Carolina April 12-14.
“Volunteers are the meat and potatoes of the NCTTA family all season, but that’s especially true when the national championship games arrive,’’ said NCTTA President Willy Leparulo.
Whether they operate video cameras to live stream the marathon of games, umpire key matches, manage practice areas or work registration tables, volunteers tackle many tasks. “They arrive early and stay late,’’ Leparulo said. “And usually, the do so with smiles on their faces. We can’t say enough nice things about our volunteers. Each day, they are valuable from start to finish.’’
With the championships attracting nearly 300 of the best collegiate table tennis players in North America, volunteers pitch in to make the event run smoothly. The work stretches from setting up tables and flooring prior to the event to shuttling players from the region’s airports. Each year, about 75 volunteers lend a hand at the NCTTA’s biggest tournament of the year.
Some NCTTA volunteers like David Pech are veterans. Others like Logan Zimmerman are relative newcomers to the organization overseeing more than 150 college table tennis teams.
Active in NCTTA circles for four years, Pech grew up in Cleveland, Ohio. Married to Lia, who’s a native of Panama, Pech, 56, has worked as an international table tennis umpire. He played the sport for fun in college. But his two sons are pretty good at the Olympic sport with ratings in the 2300 to 2400 vicinity.
He brings interesting skills to the table. “I have been a photographer most of my life,’’ David Pech says. But his career path suddenly changed gears. “I am now a coffee farmer in Panama. For the last four months, I have been pulling in this year’s harvest.’’
The NCTTA’s leader for more than a decade, Leparulo appreciates this year’s bumper crop of volunteers. A Florida State University staff member and a coach of the Noles table tennis team, Leparulo first got to know David as a player when he visited the FSU club over ten years ago.
Leparulo speaks highly of Pech as a hard working umpire who volunteers at NCTTA tournaments. “He and his family are great people for our sport. David is a strong advocate for our sport.’’
Florida’s Logan Zimmerman also stepped up his game for the NCTTA. Since the summer, he’s served on the coaching committee assisting in the development of the NCTTA’s coaching certification program. Logan will work as a volunteer four days at the 2019 Nationals.
Year-round, Zimmerman works closely with Leparulo to coach the FSU Seminoles table tennis team. That started when he began helping at practices on the Tallahassee campus.
Zimmerman and Leparulo recently joined forces to launch a new table tennis club in Florida’s capital city. Their venture received nice coverage in the media, including the “Tallahassee Democrat.’’ Logan serves as head coach of this new club.
Growing up in San Diego, California, Logan loved other sports, like golf. He received golfing certifications through the Titleist Performance Institute and picked up an MBA in professional golf management.
Fast forward to the time his brother-in-law whipped him in table tennis matches. After that stinging setback, Logan, then living in North Carolina, began training with talented players at table tennis clubs in Raleigh. His brother-in-law got slammed the next time they played. Improving his game upon returning to San Diego, he later moved to Tallahassee to work as a state employee. His passion for table tennis got stronger in the Sunshine State.
Willy Leparulo is thrilled he moved to the Florida Panhandle and shares his passion for this amazing international sport. “Logan is a Renaissance man,’’ Leparulo said. “I am really excited he’s bringing his logistics experience to the NCTTA championships.’’
The 2019 iSET College Table Tennis Championships is hosted by the National Collegiate Table Tennis Association and Sports & Properties Inc. and Greensboro 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 iSET, Double Happiness, SPI, Greensboro CVB, Double Fish and USA Table Tennis
Players and spectators alike will enjoy a jam-packed weekend of table tennis at the iSET College Table Tennis Championships. The event starts Friday April 12th and continues through Sunday April 14th. Tickets on sale at ticket master
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