One afternoon, my roommate and I were in the mood for a little friendly competition, so we headed over to the ping pong tables on the upper floor of the Commons. As we were about to start our first match, I clutched the paddle tightly in my hand and narrowed my eyes. The paper-thin plastic of the feathery ball felt smooth as I played a quick game of catch to feel out the bounce. Then, just as I was about to serve, a voice from behind me spoke.
“So, you are ready for a game then?”
I turned to find a tall man standing a few feet away, paddle in hand. When he saw my look of confusion, he gestured to a sign attached to the side of the table. The piece of paper bore the message: Challenge the Provost to a game of ping pong!
My roommate shot me a glance and laughed nervously. I hid my chuckle with a cough. We had been so focused on the game that we had totally missed the sign. Embarrassed, we turned back to the Provost, who was looking at us patiently. We realized he was not going anywhere anytime soon. No, he was here to play. Oh, what the heck, I thought, and with a friendly wave, we invited him to join our game.
For the next half hour, we talked and laughed, pinged and ponged. Aside from being really good, the Provost was also encouraging and kind. As the game progressed, he helped me keep track of the score and even gave me some pointers on my swing.
At what other university can you strike up a friendly game of ping pong with the man who oversees the entire undergraduate curriculum? I never imagined that I would have such a fun time with a faculty member, but I really did have a blast! I look forward to seeing my Provost/ping pong instructor around campus in the future!
Photo by Terrie Purkey