Physical education teachers see ping pong in their future

Lena Kogan, Staff Writer

Physical education classes have a new unit on the table during this coming year; ping-pong.  The physical education staff has been hoping for the addition of a table tennis unit during past years, and starting in March, this plan will finally materialize.

“We have wanted to have it as part of a racquet sports unit but it seemed gym space was an issue, and the price of tables and supplies is costly,” said Athletic Director Ms. Stephanie Joannon.  “So, we waited until the timing and budget was right and here we are!”

The class is being piloted in only junior and senior regular PE classes, although in the future it might be expanded to all grade levels.

“The incentive was to bring in something new,” said physical education teacher Ms. Robin Cooper.

During a board meeting, the physical education staff discussed the budget and pitched the idea of using part of the money to purchase equipment for a completely new sport, as the equipment for existing units is in fairly good condition.

“We felt our weight room and project adventure equipment was solid for another year, so we took that money and added a new activity that we hope will be great for all students,” said Ms. Joannon.

This year, only Ms. Cooper and Ms. Maria Giamanco teach 11/12 regular PE classes, so they were primarily in charge of planning the unit.  At the moment, ping-pong is piloting as a six-hour unit during which the students will be taught how to properly use the equipment and develop proper playing technique.

“We can both play ping-pong, and we’re fairly good at it, but we still needed to do a lot of research to organize this,” said Ms. Cooper.

The physical education budget was able to cover the cost of nine new ping-pong tables, as well as all the equipment necessary to play.  Four students can play at each table, so the classes will be perfectly accommodated, although the program may expand in the future.

“The great thing is that everyone can participate,” said Ms. Cooper.  “With archery, for example, there aren’t enough bows or targets for everyone to shoot at the same time, so you have half the class sitting around doing nothing.  Here all the students can play for an entire class period.”

There is no ping-pong team in the district, but that does not mean enthusiasm about the sport will not bring new developments.  Several years ago, students expressed interest in creating a ping-pong club, but so far there are not any concrete plans.

“Similar to the success of the badminton tournament, that is a direct relation to the popularity of badminton in the PE classes, we would be open to a tournament,” said Ms. Joannon.  “I think there are many ways we can use ping-pong outside of the PE classes.”

Whether or not this strand of the racquet unit will be expanded in the future is based upon feedback, and already, many are excited about this upcoming addition.

“It’s not a classic gym sport, so I think this is a very good idea,” said junior Dylan Rothman.  “Adding new things to the curriculum is always interesting.”

However, other students are disappointed that this activity is not available to all grade levels and physical education courses.

“The moment I learned that we’re not doing ping-pong in Outdoor Ed, my life fell into shambles,” said junior Andrew Costenoble.

Although the ping-pong unit is still brand new, students and teachers are eager to explore the possibilities of incorporating ping-pong into other areas of our school.

“Right away, the enthusiasm is high for this activity,” said Ms. Joannon.  “I can tell you it’s not as easy as it looks but should be fun to learn and even more fun to play.”