IM Table tennis to replace putt putt

Garrett Atkinson

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Soon after winter break, intramural athletes will be forced to switch from putters to paddles, as the IM Committee replaces putt-putt with table tennis. The switch is a direct result of the closure of Sweet Putt, the popular Walla Walla indoor-outdoor putt-putt institution. After careful consideration of a number of different replacements, one of which included bowling, the IM Committee decided on table tennis.

“We’re excited to see what happens, because it’s so new. We have no idea where it’s going to go, but we’re hoping it’s a blast,” said IM Committee Chair Julianna Wetmore.

Though Wetmore acknowledged that the official promotion of the new sport has not yet begun, the sport has already garnered significant interest.

Brad Kline (2018) practices ping pong in the basement of Anderson. Photo by Tywen Kelly.

Brad Kline (2018) practices ping pong in the basement of Anderson. Photo by Tywen Kelly.

“We just figured this out last week, I’ve only mentioned it to a few of my friends. I think we’re going to start advertising over winter break to get people excited,” said Wetmore.

One of the strengths of table tennis is that, like other IM sports, extensive experience is not necessary for success. The league will also offer a doubles competition, which will lend itself to students with less-experience. Students who expressed interest in playing made it clear that this is definitely a strength for the new sport.

“I’ve just played it for fun after school, back when I was in daycare. But not really since,” said junior Jenna Rolle.

“My background in table tennis is pretty minimal. I’ve played a handful of times, but I’ve never dedicated any time to learning the sport or making an effort to be at all decent,” wrote senior Janni Conrad in an email.

As with all intramural sports, the sport should attract a variety of players. However, the IM Committee anticipates that perhaps first year students will be most drawn to the sport due to the location in first year residence halls. Many residence halls including Jewett, Lyman, North and Douglas have ping pong tables, allowing much easier access than other IM sports. This fact may increase interest and competitiveness as convenience may increase students’ proclivity to practice for competitions.

“We’re hoping to really inspire the freshman just because it’s in their dorms, so they shouldn’t have to leave,” said Wetmore.

Another strength of the doubles format will be that more people will be able to participate.

“I feel like IM sports should be a group thing, to bring people together,” said Wetmore.

Conrad agreed.

“I think Whitman culture lends itself to doubles much more than singles in that we foster an inclusive community, which aligns more with team sports,” said Conrad in an email.

Brad Kline (2018). Photo by Tywen Kelly.

Brad Kline (2018). Photo by Tywen Kelly.

The preliminary response to the sport being doubles rather than singles has been overwhelmingly positive.

“I would prefer a doubles format, mostly because I have an incredibly talented partner lined-up,” said Conrad in an email.

“I feel like it could lead to a lot of injuries on such a small table. I think doubles could be fun though,” said Rolle.

The sport, which will occur prior to Spring Break during the second semester, will have a long way to go in order to replace putt-putt. The question of whether it live up to the standard of other IM sports for popularity, enthusiasm and enjoyment will be on the line as the new sport is unveiled.+