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Ping pong bounces back to Kingsbury

Staff Writer

Published: Friday, December 6, 2013

Updated: Friday, December 6, 2013 01:12

The illegitimate matrimony between Kingsbury and ping pong, despite months apart, has been consummated this week, proving that not every college relationship ends over Thanksgiving break.

Months ago, the ping pong table on the third floor of Kingsbury was stolen – paddles and balls alike – only to be mysteriously returned in disrepair, beyond playability. For weeks the table went untouched, until fifth-year senior and math education major, Meagan Boucher, took it upon herself to fundraise for a new table.

Boucher exceeded her goal of raising $300 by the start of second semester, raising $303 before Thanksgiving break.

The new Stiga brand ping pong table was purchased on Black Friday for a discounted deal of $250, allowing Boucher to buy new paddles and balls with the surplus.

The unassembled table was transported to Kingsbury that night, assembled the following Monday, and students were arguing over illegal serves and discussing top-spin techniques within the hour.

“It’s just really good to have it [the new table] up before break,” Boucher said of her achievements. “Don is really grateful, too.”

Don Hadwin, professor of mathematics in the College of Engineering and Physical Sciences, donated the first table to the math department a few years ago. Hadwin’s affinity for ping pong originated back in the ‘70s. One of Hadwin’s Chinese graduate students at the time was a semi-professional ping pong player, and taught Hadwin what he knows about the sport.

“I wish [Boucher] didn’t have to go through all this trouble to buy the table herself,” Hadwin said of Boucher’s efforts to attain a new table. “But what she did was really incredible, amazing.”

The fundraising process started weeks ago as a Facebook page fitted with a PayPal link enabling people to donate towards the new table. The page currently has 48 likes, but it didn’t have donations for a week, prompting Boucher to seek alternative fundraising avenues.

“I kind of always knew I’d have to do more than the website,”  Boucher explained of the slow process.

One day, a single donation of $20 came in through the website, followed by another single donation of $50. 

“I took it as a sign,” Boucher said of the large donations and was subsequently energized to organize a bake sale, feeling she owed the generous patrons table tennis.

“My mom made two pies and my friends helped me bake,” Boucher said, adding that she wasn’t going to talk about how long it took her to bake all the desserts for the sale, and she’s “never going to bake again.”

The sale took place the Wednesday after Veterans Day, selling a panoply of goods including chocolate chip cookies, chocolate- covered Oreos, oatmeal raisin cookies, multiple apple pies, cranberry bread, pumpkin whoopee pies, homemade apple cinnamon donuts and more. The elaborate spread, combined with the money raised through the Facebook page, reached Boucher’s fundraising goals; thereafter, Boucher immediately put a table on hold at the Dick’s Sporting Goods in Newington.

Despite all this effort, Boucher and her ping-pong-loving compatriots are not yet out of the woods.

While Boucher and her friends were assembling the table, Edward Hinson, chair of the Mathematics and Statistics Department, said it was fine the table be assembled, so long as no one plays ping pong until it is cleared with higher authority. Hinson’s ban, delivered anachronistically after the old table was played on for years without incident, discouraged Boucher and her friends, but not enough to keep them from playing a few rounds anyway.

Boucher’s roguish gesture was not an isolated incident. While the ping pong ruling is suspended in the legal limbo, math and engineering majors have taken to the new table.     

“We never played on the old one,” freshman Sean Philbrick said. “I don’t think there were paddles for it.”

Philbrick was enjoying a game of ping pong on the new table with his friend Troy Reinold, also a freshman. Reinold, spinning one of the new paddles in his hand, said he’d like to “‘dap’ up” whoever bought the new table.

Juniors Chelsea Yates and Marla Lantos were lounging on the chairs and couches framing the table, both confirming that the idea of a ping pong table in a mathematics hall is a very interesting concept.

“It’s a nice stress reliever,” Yates said of the new table. “I’d play if it weren’t finals week,” Lantos added.

With Christmas a few weeks away, it’s nice to see even the Grinchiest of actions – like stealing a locus of community and then deciding to return said object after undergoing an existential crisis on the proverbial (though literal with the Grinch analogy) precipice of morality – can still be thwarted by stalwart beliefs and baked goods.

The sound of engineering and math majors arguing over illegal serves and whose top-spin has just the right amount of top-spin can once again be heard echoing through the third floor of Kingsbury due, largely, to the stalwart dedication of Boucher.

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