Opinion: Pong is Life

Erik Olson explores the art of ping pong through interviewing local prodigies Michael Penza, Joshua Tedeschi, and Dayne Gardiner.

By Erik Olson (Previous Staff Writer) on Friday May 2, 2014

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By Erik Olson | Staff Writer

May 2, 2014

For the average Dan, ping pong might not seem to have the potential of being an athletic, exciting, and entertaining sport. Most might not even see it as a sport, but rather as a calm recreational activity involving minimal sweat, strength, and athletic ability.

DP Senior Michael Penza would strongly disagree with this point-of-view and insist that ping pong — when properly played — is a craft worthy of dedication and theatrical portrayal. As a participant in this aggrandized style of ping pong, I firmly support his beliefs.

Michael Penza let's out a celebratory "cho" with a raised fist. Shouting "cho" after conquering your opponent in a match is a traditional sign of dominance.

Michael Penza let’s out a celebratory “cho” with a raised fist. Shouting “cho” after conquering your opponent in a match is a traditional sign of dominance.

It was junior year when Penza’s English teacher sarcastically dared him to create a ping pong video for his final project. Of course he obliged without hesitation, utilizing colleagues to aid him in the video’s production. After hours and hours of playing, the amount of clips needed for a video were accumulated and tastefully coordinated to a suitable song.

This process of playing high quality ping pong and creatively displaying it on video soon evolved into something much more than a simple English project.

It became the “Ping Pong Mix” series (Click here to view).

Senior Joshua Tedeschi plays a big role on the ping pong scene. Despite being a dedicated baseball player with college offers, he admits ping pong is his primary sport: “Ping pong helps with wrist flexibility, which puts more movement on my pitches,” he said.

Dayne Gardiner sympathizes, as he manages to juggle basketball and ping pong as his main sports. Penza is on the varsity soccer team for his very first year. After major knee surgery, he found ping pong as the best way to rehab. He now attributes his abilities on the soccer field to the long hours spent on the table.

A higher standard for ping pong requires a higher standard for the stage it must be played on. Finding the appropriate environment is imperative to the visual quality of a ping pong mix.

A higher standard for ping pong requires a higher standard for the stage it must be played on. Finding the appropriate environment is imperative to the visual quality of a ping pong mix.

“It has taught me discipline,” said Penza of the sport. “The characteristics needed to succeed on the table help me succeed in the classroom. Dealing with the ping pong media has also improved my public speaking.”

One of the original founders of the ping pong club at Dos Pueblos, Tyler Fletcher, is an avid follower of the “Ping Pong Mix” series:

“I see it as a way of life. Ping pong is strictly for those with great strength and athletic ability,” he said. “I have followed the ping pong mix tapes since day one. I’ve watched every episode countless times; it puts me into a state of euphoria. I think the videos capture the art of ping pong very well. The editing and tracks really add to the overall great experience.”

“I would say that you aren’t really living life to the fullest if watching high quality ping pong is not in your daily routine,” said Penza to non-viewers. “I would encourage potential fans and enthusiasts to grab a 7-ply (high performance paddle) and head to the table for a better understanding of the challenges and fun you can experience in the making of high standard ping pong compilation videos.”

I agree and challenge non-believers to at least try the sport, and urge followers and advocates to always pursue their ping pong hopes and dreams.

Previous Staff Writer - eolson14@dpnews.org

One comment on Opinion: Pong is Life:

Nanci Gardiner on May 4, 2014 at 4:22 PM PDT

Great article, Erik! :-)

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