Ping Pong: A Pathfinding Experience

By: 
Brendan Reilly
Class of: 
2020

My St. Lawrence journey has been molded by ping pong. Of course I didn’t expect this as a first-year student, but ping pong has become my greatest tool for finding my path as a Saint. Through the SLU Table Tennis Club, I have gotten involved, been guided toward a field of study, and even received a summer job.

I’ve been playing ping pong since I could barely see above the table, so I was pumped to test out my skills against the college competition when I saw a flyer for the SLU Table Tennis Club. My first match was against Ed Harcourt, a computer science professor with a mean topspin. Before that game, I was strictly a language and philosophy student, but after a tight match and some conversation, I was sold on giving computer science a shot. I registered for “Intro to Computer Programming,” and it turned out to be one of my favorite classes to date—and it was totally off my radar before ping pong brought me there. It was a no-brainer to keep up with computer science, and I now plan to minor in the field.

My most important connection yet also came to me during a SLU Table Tennis Club session. A visiting professor from China came to the session with her family, and while playing a few rounds with her mother, I began to keep score in Chinese. Like it usually does, hearing an American student speak Chinese came as a pleasant surprise, and she was delighted to be able to speak with me in her native tongue. This small linguistic bond grew into a close connection with the family, and I now plan to visit them in China in the coming summer to work as an English teaching intern. For me, this is less a summer job than it is a dream come true.

Middle School Me would perhaps be disappointed that I’m not yet on the National Table Tennis Team, but to have the beloved basement game play such a strong role in my college experience is surely a win for the ping pong lover in me. Each student at St. Lawrence has their “ping pong” story. No matter what your path is, connections and opportunities will find you during your time as a Saint.