Table Tennis club president Adam LaBombard estimates that over a hundred students visit the tables set up in the Campus Center on a good day.
“A lot of students try to find something to do with their friends as a hobby and I think our club is the largest place on campus for friends to hang out and have some fun at the same time,” said LaBombard.
On Nov. 22, the club will host a tournament hoping to involve more of the student body. The tournament will have two levels, advanced and elite. The advanced level will be for newer players and hobbyists, while the elite level will be for the most committed of table tennis players.
According to LaBombard, the majority of the club’s funding is going towards purchasing food for the tournament, and prizes for the top three winners. Prizes will include paddles, t-shirts and table tennis accessories.
“We want to create a general sense of community. We try to get new members all the time. Sometimes we try to help people become better players if they want that,” said club vice president Joshua Bedell.
LaBombard hopes that the club may eventually be able to host a tournament that is not just for Hudson Valley students. “I wanted to see if we could have an Open for the RPI students. They have the US Open for tennis – we would have the Hudson Valley Open for colleges around the area,” he said.
During the academic year, tables are always open so anybody can use them at any time of day, but only members of the club are allowed on the leaderboard. “It’s kind of a friendly competition that we keep going, and it gets a lot of people to come by,” said LaBombard.
The club has no plans to purchase more tables despite often having tables at full capacity. “This semester I have noticed we’ve been kind of tight on tables because of the large amount of people who have been showing up, but usually we don’t have a big problem,” said LaBombard. He said the area’s busiest times are from 10:30 a.m. to noon.
In an effort to combat limited table space, the club often plays “around the world” (a game in which players circle the table – can allow about forty people to play at the four tables at once). “When we start a game of around the world, we get people from upstairs and we get people from the Naked Pear Cafe,” said LaBombard.
LaBombard tries to make the club as welcoming and inclusive an environment as possible, and many members have taken notice. “Anybody can walk in and play, it’s a really friendly environment, it’s really easy to just jump in. People of all skill levels come here and play, this is where I found my friends,” said Mike Krajeski, fine arts student.
For many members, the social element of the club is the main attraction. “The first semester I came here for the ping pong, but then I started to meet people here that I really liked. Now I come because this is where I feel most comfortable,” said Dante Carr, electrical engineering student.