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April 12, 2012
Texas Wesleyan’s Jim Segrest Displays Heart of a Champion
Strives to Capture His First NCTTA Para Table Tennis Championship
Today, there are 21 million Americans with physical or visual disabilities.
Injured in a car accident in 2000, Texas Wesleyan table tennis player Jim Segrest, Jr. is one of them. Although bound to a wheelchair, he’s represented the university at the college table tennis national championships starting in 2009, and hopes to show off his athletic skills at the April 13-15 event in Plano, Texas.
Less than an hour’s drive from the Fort Worth campus, there should be plenty of fans from the Lone Star State and elsewhere cheering his courage and determination despite obstacles.
Segrest missed making the USA Paralympic table tennis team for the 2012 games in London, but don’t count him out for the games four years away. “I’m more determined than ever to make it to Rio de Janeiro in 2016,” he says. “I love the competitiveness of the game, hate to lose, but have to remember I learn more in a loss than a win.”
The TWU graduate student has been a goodwill ambassador for his favorite sport and has represented the USA around the globe for the past three years. He played table tennis at the World Championships in South Korea in 2010, and at the Para Pan Am Games in Guadalajara, Mexico in 2011, a stepping stone to the 2012 Paralympics.
A graduate student in education at Texas Wesleyan, he’s looking at career opportunities beyond the Fort Worth campus. When Jim is not displaying his powerful serve at TWU practices or tournaments, he’s studying to become a sixth grade math teacher. His career goal is to be working with gifted and talented children in the classroom.
TWU table tennis coach Jasna Rather is impressed with Segrest as a person, player and role model.
“I wish all my players on the team have the same desire and devotion as Jim,” says Rather, who was a star performer for years on the Texas squad and in her native Serbia. “He is a great example to other players on the team, and it was just a blast to have him around. His emotional support and friendship to others made this team have an even stronger spirit than ever before. In competition, he never gives up.”
Jim was once among three wheelchair players on the Texas Wesleyan table tennis team, a perennial powerhouse at all collegiate levels. But teammate Andre Scott moved to San Diego, and Pam Fontaine is no longer taking classes. That leaves Jim Segrest, and fortunately, the future teacher brings many strengths to the table.
“I think that everyone on the team would agree that Jim is a great person and friend,” Coach Rather said. “He is available to everyone if needed for help at practices and outside of practices. Also, his parents are very supportive of our team and they get involved very often with some of our team activities.”
Segrest’s life changed dramatically since joining the Texas Wesleyan team in 2009. “He found new friends, new purpose and a new family of people.” Traveling around much of the USA and a good chunk of the world for tournaments, “he seems more confident and happier,’’ she said.
Around the USA, there are para sports clubs emerging in more than 130 communities, but the goal is to see that national number climb to 250 cities by the end of the year. U.S. soldiers returning home with injuries suffered in wars fought in Iraq and Afghanistan, people with major medical problems, those injured on the job or involved in car wrecks are part of a growing number of Americans with disabilities taking part in athletic competition.
By playing in table tennis events, Segrest is helping with the cause, spurring interest in paralympic sports and building friendships. “The friends I’ve made will be lifelong, and that includes international friends. And I never dreamed I’d see all the great places I’ve been to.”
Plano is up next on his spring athletics calendar and this international traveler from Texas Wesleyan University should enjoy the 45-minute ride to the NCTTA championships. “It will be nice to play close to home,” Jim Segrest said.
Players and spectators alike will enjoy a jam-packed weekend of table tennis at the 2012 College Table Tennis Championships. The event starts Friday April 13th and continues to Sunday April 15th at Plano Sports Authority 2 in Plano, Texas.
The National Collegiate Table Tennis Association (NCTTA) is a non-profit organization established exclusively for promoting the sport of table tennis at the college level. As the national governing body for college table tennis in the United States and Canada, NCTTA organizes intercollegiate competition throughout North America. www.nctta.org
About USA Table Tennis
Headquartered in Colorado Springs, USATT is the national organizing body for table tennis in the United States, serving 9,000+ members and nearly 300 clubs. USATT sanctions 200+ events a year including the US Open and US Nationals. USATT is affiliated with the International Table Tennis Federation (ITTF), as well as the United States Olympic Committee (USOC). www.usatt.org & tabletennis.teamusa.org