From family reunions to casual games with her friends at Ball State, sophomore marketing major Courtney Berger said she has been playing ping pong all her life. 

“I would be playing [ping pong] in the lounges at [DeHority Complex,] people would come up [to me], and we’d play random games,” Berger said. 

Through her interest in the sport, Berger decided to restart Ball State’s ping pong club with her friend Madison Jenkins, sophomore human resource management and marketing major, to gather everyone else who might be interested in one place and create a community of players at all different levels. 

In the past, Ball State students have tried to start a ping pong club like those at Indiana University, Notre Dame and Purdue University, but Berger said there have always been problems with retention, and the groups eventually “fizzled out.”

Berger and Jenkins went through the Office of Student Life’s process to start their ping pong club, which included attending a Benny Link Workshop where they were taught how to start a club. 

Then, they submitted an “Intent to Organize” form to the Office of Student Life, as well as their group’s constitution, which outlines all of the club’s rules. Once approved, Berger and Jenkins had to present to a committee about the importance of the club and its purpose. The final step was meeting with a Benny Link advisor and submitting the new post. 

“We got [the ping pong club] on Benny Link, and we were stoked about it,” Jenkins said. 

After the first call-out meeting, the club accumulated 60 members, most of whom Berger and Jenkins knew from the Miller College of Business. Forty of the 60 who signed up attended the first official meeting.

“We have a lot of different perspectives, which is nice because even though we’re all part of the business program, we’re not similar,” Jenkins said.

Graduate student and professional ping pong player, Brayag Sharma reaches for a ball in a game against Shreyas Acharya, a graduate student and professional ping pong player on Sept. 11, 2019 at the Jo Ann Gora Recreation Center. Both are members of the Ball State ping pong club. Jacob Musselman, DN

Brayag Sharma and Shreyas Acharya, both information and communication science graduate students, are two who saw the email about ping pong club and decided to join. They have both played professional ping pong for the past 10 years in India. 

“The people participating have so much passion and play with so much interest,” Sharma said.

Acharya said being a professional player was rewarding because he was able to do something he is passionate about. 

By joining a group with mixed talent, Sharma and Acharya have the opportunity to teach other members the techniques they use. 

“The people who come here don’t come here just to play,” Acharya said. “They have an interest in the game and want to learn.” 

Another unique aspect of the club is its executive board, which consists entirely of female members. 

“It’s something that not many groups have,” Berger said. “When people see that the ping pong club is run by all girls, that might change people’s perspective on who can run things.”

Lukas Kaylor, graduate chemistry student, said he joined the club for its social atmosphere. He said he wanted to find a club that wasn’t very competitive and offered a space where he could make friends. 

“[The ping pong club executive board] hasn’t missed a beat,” Kaylor said. “They’re really organized.” 

Berger and Jenkins both said they hope the club becomes bigger than it is, and they want students to know there is a place they can go and play and learn with other people.

“I want people to not think of ping pong like the goofy stereotype that it has now,” Jenkins said. “ I want them to know that [ping pong] is fun, and it’s a friendship-building process.”

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