Ping Pong Club


Tyler Reidy, Jay Journal Staff

In a school year where keeping the sense of Prep community and brotherhood alive has been vital, the role of clubs and activities has been magnified. After all, it is through these extracurricular activities that Prep students have the chance to meet others with similar interests and immerse themselves into the school community. 

As challenging as it’s been to create this kind of environment given the COVID-19 pandemic, some clubs and activities have jumped off the page and taken a step up to keep the brotherhood alive. One of these is Ping Pong Club, which hasn’t been around in its restructured form for all that long, but has had a remarkably positive impact on Prep students and faculty alike.

Back at the beginning of February, when students were all emerging from hybrid learning and returning to in-person learning, the newly revived Ping Pong Club was getting its feet on the ground. Ping pong tables had been set up around the building for most of the year up to that point, but students were playing just for fun and there wasn’t a true structure for the club. However, Mr. Kelly Barth, a theology teacher at Prep, was about to change that in the blink of an eye. 

“I noticed guys were playing a lot after school and I thought, ‘Oh, I’ll just carry my ping pong paddle around, and if I ever get a game in, that’d be really cool,’” Barth said. “And so one day I got into a game and ended up playing for about an hour with a whole bunch of different guys, and we all had tons of fun.”

With Barth introduced to the competitive, positive energy surrounding Prep’s ping pong tables, he began working to bring some order to the situation. After noticing that the tables were located in some strange spots around the school, Barth met with Mrs. Sara Smith, director of student activities, to ask about moving them. What happened next certainly caught him by surprise.

“I walked out of that meeting being the new moderator. It just started by happenstance,” Barth said. “I always call those ‘Holy Spirit moments’ because it was one of those things where Mr. [Matt] Delaney (the club’s previous moderator) saw me playing with those guys and mentioned something to Mrs. Smith that I should be the new moderator, since he was really busy with other things.”

Now, Barth is approaching three months as moderator of Ping Pong Club, and he’s enjoyed every minute of it. 

“My favorite part about being the moderator is just getting to know a lot of students I wouldn’t normally get to know,” he said. “One thing I love about ping pong is that it doesn’t matter what your background is, what you look like, or if you’re super athletic. Everybody has fun playing it and apparently a lot of guys know how to play it.”

As the new moderator, Barth got to work quickly on re-organizing the club. He set up three tables in the Smith Atrium, allowing for any students to come play after school. Additionally, he rounded up interested students via email and put together a document for students to keep track of their win totals each day. Participation was phenomenal right from the get-go, so Barth and the club members decided to organize the first tournament at the Bro-Ha-Ha on March 19. 

“The Bro-Ha-Ha tournament went extremely well,” Barth said. “We had around 24 guys who played, and we all had tons of fun.”

After the success of the first competition, Barth wanted to make tournaments a more regular occurrence for the students. This was accomplished through the brand new tradition, “Tournament Tuesday”, which kicked off on April 13. Three different brackets were set up: one for the sophomore-junior lunch period, one for the freshman-senior lunch period, and one for after school. Much like the Bro-Ha-Ha tournament, this new event was a hit.

“On our first Tournament Tuesday, a lot of guys were super excited and jumped right into it, and the next day guys were asking, ‘I heard there was a tournament yesterday. Can I join next time?’” Barth said. “It’s gone extremely well, so we’ll keep doing that and keep trying to find ways to get guys excited and having fun.”