The Paw Print

Inside the society

Sky Barratt, Staff Writer

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During lunch and after school, a group of about 20 high school boys file into English teacher Micah Conkling’s room at the end of the high school hallway. Some grab paddles while others gather around the ping pong table that senior Sam Peterson, a founding member of the club, and his dad spent four hours putting up one weekend. Ping Pong Club was its original name, but it’s adapted into Ping Pong Society.

“It’s more than just a club, because there’s a community built around it,” junior JD Bickley, another of the group’s founding members said. “So, therefore, it’s a society.”

“And it’s a frat!” sophomore Cooper Rovenstine interjected.

“It’s not… it’s not a frat. It’s not a frat,” Peterson said, before jokingly yelling at Rovenstine to put his shirt back on for the third time (it hasn’t been taken off).

Most of the people in the society were there last year too, but a few are new.

“I walk in here- and I’ve always played a lot of ping pong-,” sophomore and newcomer Joby Jobson said, “and then when you go up against people like these who have played ping pong for so long, you just look like an idiot out there.” Although Jobson did want  everyone to know he did beat Conkling in a match once, a big deal for someone who hasn’t won very many matches.

The atmosphere in the room is lively. There’s groups of boys laughing at various inside jokes, others on their phones, and another group pulling sophomore Zion Bohlender’s hair out of a hoodie. They periodically challenge each other in ping pong matches, their names working their way up on the scoreboard. Eventually, Peterson says, they’d like to compete in a league at the YMCA.  

“It’s chill, ya know?” sophomore Blaise Keel said. “There’s a competitive atmosphere and you get to hang out with your friends. [Sophomore] Marc [Trujillo] always gets kicked out because he says dumb things.”

There’s lots of funny stories like this.

“So one time,” Peterson said, “Louie’s paddle handle broke off, and he proceeded to beat me without the handle and just using the edge of the paddle and that was really embarrassing.”

Alongside the actual ping pong matches, there are memories made, stories created. There’s funny little adventures and moments that happen that make the Society more than just ping pong. They’re the kind of things that make the Society a community, that draw the boys there every day for lunch and after school. These things make it not just a sport, but a Society.

“One time after the Ping Pong Club meeting, Mr. Conkling and I were hitting that dummy,” Bickley said, gesturing to the dummy dressed in a plaid shirt and lipstick in the corner, “and I pretended to be Daredevil with a yardstick, and as I went up to hit the dummy. He also was attempting to hit the dummy and I hit him in the ear and he bled.”

“It hurt really bad,” Conkling adds from behind, in the middle of a match.

Ping Pong Society isn’t just for ping pong. It’s for hanging out at lunch and after school.  It’s for building relationships.  It’s for creating inside jokes. It’s for making memories.

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