North Texas Daily

New leader reshapes UNT table tennis club

New leader reshapes UNT table tennis club

New leader reshapes UNT table tennis club
April 01
01:42 2014

William Darnell and Tyler Owens // Editor-in-Chief and Contributing Writer

When members of UNT’s table tennis club shows off their skills on Wednesdays in the Pohl Recreation Center, they hopes to represent a lot more than an opportunity for club members to dazzle the audience with trick shots. It is putting on the event to bring exposure to a group recently reorganized by a new leader.

The club’s new president, 26-year-old Alan Chu, is a first-year doctoral student in sports psychology. The 20-year table tennis veteran employs the skills he’s learning to improve the play of his teammates and himself.

“I always focus on individual improvement. I don’t compare different players. I just have them set their goals, and actually organize team meetings, have them set goals and have some visualization about how they obtain their goals as well,” Chu said. “I study sport psychology, so that’s the passion I have. I have some mental skills to help them increase their performance.”

When Chu arrived at UNT earlier this year, the club was in disarray—without a leader, without many members and according to what the club sports officer told Chu, without a chance for success.

“So I said, ‘I’m willing to take over,’” Chu said.

Geography sophomore Lewis Pierce has been with the club since he came to UNT two years ago, although he said the club only recently began to resemble one.

“Since Alan has gotten here, we’ve done a lot of rebuilding of the club,” Pierce said. “Before it was pretty disorganized. I was a part of it, but I didn’t really know what was going on with other people at all.”

The club meets twice a week in an upstairs room at the rec center. Two hours at a time the 10 or so members practice—drill after drill, taking turns against each other. They compete in tournaments, with some success—in what Chu described as the toughest region in the United States. They compete in open tournaments across the region, facing other universities or every day people ranging in age from 12 to the elderly.

“Most of them (the members) who are committed to practice really improve a lot,” Chu said. “They improve more than I expect. I think a lot of them have potential and have experience in sports.”

On Wednesday night from 6 to 9 p.m., the group will host its first event of the semester at the rec center. With the promise of free food, drinks and a tournament to accommodate attendees, the club hopes to gain as new members. In addition to Wednesday’s exhibition, the group is doing fundraisers with Pita Pit and Yogurt Fusion later in April.

Joining the club is simple, $20 and you’re in, but Pierce said playing the sport takes discipline, as the quick game requires a fast mind and dedication.

“Alan has been playing for 20 years, and at one point he was practicing like 6 hours a day, and he’s gotten a lot better,” Pierce said. “He’s the best here, but he never could have gotten that good if he didn’t put in all those hours. It’s a big part of it for sure.”

While the game may be dismissed as a hobby by many, for Chu, the club and the National Collegiate Table Tennis Association, the game is a serious sport.

According to the NCTTA, table tennis increases cognitive activity, provides a full body workout and may even help combat the effects of Alzheimer’s disease.

“The speed of the game engages your brain for multiple functions that need constant and simultaneous attention,” an NCTTA article states. “Quick eye movement makes your brain do all kinds of analysis and calculations on the spot. Basically, you are turning into a mathematician and a physicist in the body of an athlete.”

Feature photo: Sports psychology doctoral student Alan Chu prepares to return the serve from his table tennis club teammate Hyunjin Moon at the club’s practice at 9 p.m. on March 23. Photo by William Darnell / Editor-in-Chief

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