A club approaching its first anniversary on campus is conducting table tennis trainings, seeking new members and hoping to serve up friendships along the way.
The Table Tennis Club’s trainings take place every week throughout the summer, 11:35 a.m. to 2 p.m. Monday through Thursday until Aug. 1 in Room 134 of the Madla Building at Texas A&M University-San Antonio.
The club welcomes all skill levels and looks to connect members with others around the university. They provide newcomers an opportunity to learn about the sport of table tennis and gain experience through one-on-one coaching and friendly matches.
New members are encouraged to attend the table tennis training to improve their talents and gain valuable exposure to gamelike settings.
Psychology senior Ryan Day is the founder and past president of the club. Day created the club Aug. 27, 2018.
“I love table tennis,” Day said. “I wanted to promote the sport here. … The reason why I wanted to do it was because of incoming freshmen because I wanted to help them make relationships. Meet people, get out there; kind of get out of their comfort zone.”
Day said he hopes the club, although under a year old, will make a lasting impact on students looking to get involved on campus. There are 22 current members.
“I created this club to help with the process of coming into a university and embracing the culture and showing that you value these relationships, something that I want them to bring with them throughout their life,” Day said.
Izaiah Ceres, a computer information systems sophomore, understands that being a part of the club is about being a part of something bigger than yourself. Ceres joined the club as a freshman in August 2018.
“It is a great experience,” Ceres said. “I recommend everyone try it. It got me to open up and get a lot more friends than I think I would have without the club.”
Since the club welcomes all skill levels, members are constantly bettering their game against those who may have years of experience.
In the small amount of time Ceres has been a part of the club, his table tennis skills have improved.
“I love playing against my club members, especially our president, Ryan. It is just so fun to train on a daily basis and have a great time,” Ceres said. “I joined this club because I saw people and how good they were and it just made me want to become better myself.”
Ceres is not the only incoming sophomore who found the club to be a place of belonging.
Fayaz Lal, a computer science sophomore, views the club as an outlet from stress and school.
“Meeting with the guys and playing with them all day because we go to classes and stress out about the classes and lessons, so when we come back it is fun,” Lal said.
For members, the club is much more than meeting for matches and hitting a ball over a net. Lal is an exchange student from Pakistan and views the club as something special.
“Basically we are a family, so we look out for each other and we help each other,” Lal said.
The trainings provide amateur table tennis players much more than practice. The camaraderie and bond between its members is something newcomers can learn to appreciate and experience if they hope to join.
Day has given the club the opportunity to expand and give back to the community. Day’s new goal going into the 2019-2020 school year is that the club continues to compete, Day said. The club has competed in over 10 nationally ranked tournaments against teams from other institutions across Texas and the country, taking them to Missouri, Dallas, Houston, Austin and San Antonio.
Members volunteer at San Antonio Table Tennis Club helping to load and unload equipment for tournaments. They also feed the homeless and perform other volunteer opportunities with the Knights of Columbus chapter associated with Saint Monica’s Catholic Church in Converse.
“I think for me and this new goal is that they continue to compete and they continue to volunteer in the community,” Day said. “Next year it would be awesome to fight for table tennis … to be a recognized collegiate team … you can’t fight for something if you don’t do anything about it.”
A&M-San Antonio is taking steps to bring athletics to campus starting in fall 2020. The club is seeking to become more of an established organization and to compete with colleges that have recognized table tennis teams.
“UTSA has a table tennis club, UIW has a table tennis club,” Day said. “I think it is just steps to be a recognized (collegiate) team.”
As the club heads into their second full academic year, they are looking for new members. The trainings will continue after both summer sessions are over. Members can meet up with others at any time for pointers or a pick-up game