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The Blue & Gray Press | September 26, 2017

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Ping Pong Pals: Jefferson Hall Bonds Over Table Tennis

By LANDON JAMES

Teddy Harvey, a resident of east side first floor Jefferson Hall, used an unconventional method of dealing with one of the most emotionally draining situations of his college career.

In the fall of his first semester, Harvey discovered that a very close friend of his had betrayed his trust and his friendship.  This incited a sense of rage and sadness that Harvey took out upon the poor walls of Jefferson Hall by assaulting them with a fully loaded Pepsi twoliter.

After discovering that engaging in property damage didn’t help his problems, Harvey instead resorted to playing pingpong to help deal with his emotions.

“It took my mind off things,” said Harvey, a freshman.  “I was more focused on playing ping pong than the relationship.”

Harvey considers the sport a form of therapy.

“It’s a good stress reliever and it helped me along the way and kept me from making bad decisions,” Harvey said.

Pingpong brought Harvey to a better place.

Harvey is not the only one who is passionate about his residence hall pingpong table.

Dozens of Jefferson east first floor guys practically live in the common room, many of them playing the game for the therapy, the camaraderie, or, in some cases, the money.

Table tennis, as it was originally called, was begun in the 1880s and has evolved a lot since its conception.  The tops of cigar boxes were used as paddles, with a carved down wine cork as the ball, and a line of books as the net.

Currently, paddles are made from laminated wood and rubber, while the balls are made from plastic, and the table has an official net.
Books, however, are strictly used for studying purposes on the east side first floor of Jefferson.

Christopher “Stu” Stewart, another illustrious member of the pingpong team, agrees that above everything else, ping pong is therapeutic.

“Pingpong is about relaxing,” said Stewart, a freshman.

John Rowley, another resident of east side first floor Jefferson, is often found playing Stewart and enjoying many of the same benefits.

“Pingpong is a great sport and revitalizes my mind and body,” Rowley said.

Rowley’s wallet has also benefited from his prowess at the game.

Over the course of two semesters, Rowley has amassed over $100 from bets on pingpong games. This includes winning anywhere from a single game to 40 in a row.

“I constantly find myself pondering over my fellow hall mates’ strategies,” Rowley said.

Even more than the money, playing pingpong has allowed those in the east side first floor of Jefferson to get to know each other better. And after playing every day since the beginning of the school year, these guys know each other pretty darn well.

Only a couple of other residence halls on campus have pingpong tables – Bushnell and Mason.

For the halls without a pingpong table, it is impossible for its residents to experience the relief the lucky Jeffersonians get from the game.

“Having a pingpong table in the residence hall is crucial; I don’t know what I would do without it,” Harvey said.

The boys agree that no game can equal pingpong.

“If they took away the pingpong table in Jefferson, I would not settle for foosball,” Rowley said.

To the disappointment of the Jefferson Hall players, there is no pingpong club nor is it recognized as a sport at the University of Mary Washington.

Harvey thinks that implementing a pingpong club would be beneficial to the students.

“A pingpong club would be fun as crap,” Harvey said. “But it would have to be student run.”

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