By (Zach Fidel)

All the houses are torn apart, the streets are filled with debris, and school is out because Hurricane Katrina has just devastated New Orleans. There is nothing to do but pick up a paddle and swing away.

John Deeble, a senior from Louisiana, has been a member of the Alabama’s table tennis club for three years. He recently took over as president because the former president resigned without warning last year. Curiosity can go a long way.

“Last year, our club almost fell apart,” Deeble said. “Nobody really took any action once our former president resigned. I was the first one to ask what is happening with our club and because of that I think that is why I am now president of The University of Alabama table tennis club.”

Deeble fell in love with the game of table tennis when tragedy struck in 2006. His family was forced to stay at a friend’s house due to Hurricane Katrina tearing down several communities in Louisiana, including his own.

“My buddy had a Ping-Pong table in his living room and we would play like everyday for hours because there was nothing else to do,” Deeble said.

Shane Crawford, a Ph.D. student at the University, also grasped the game while playing with friends. At practice, Crawford competes against many skilled table tennis players, including one person in particular who challenges him shot for shot.

“The person that teaches us the most about the mechanics of the game is our faculty advisor Mr. Alter,” Crawford said. “When he plays against us he will tell us after every mistake what we need to work on, this helps me because I know if I mess up he is going to stop the game and tell me what I did wrong.”

Crawford said he believes students do not realize that there is a table tennis club on campus, and the club should do a better job of getting the word out on campus. However, he loves the fact there are several international students who have joined the club.

“Seeing the amount of international students that have signed up allows our team to be more diverse,” Crawford said. “It gives us a chance to learn from each other.”

Yutaka Oike, an exchange student from Japan, is one of many international students who have joined the the University’s table tennis club. Oike found out about the club while exercising at the Student Recreation Center. The fast paced game that was taking place near the basketball courts had caught his wandering eye.

“Table tennis is not very popular in Japan, so I had no idea what was going on when I first saw them playing,” Oike said. “I am very grateful for everybody that has taught me how to play the game, every time I go back to my dorm I will play a game of table tennis.”

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Source:: The Crimson White Sports