2013 US National Table Tennis Junior Para Team

Class and Disability: Class 8.  left side hemi paresis due to malignant brain tumor

How did you get involved in table tennis?  I have always enjoyed playing, unfortunately I didn't have a lot of time for the sport until now.  After being diagnosed with brain cancer, I have been unable to play in contact sports.  I turned to table tennis to continue to compete.  A close family friend has a sister that is a para swimmer and has competed in the last two Para Olympics in China and England. (Susan Beth Scott). When I heard that table tennis was a para olympic sport and that I could try to compete at that level.. I WAS IN!  I played in my first local tournament in February of this year.

What are your goals in Para table tennis?  My short term goals are to apply what I have learned from some of the best coaches in the world at the USA Junior camp leading up to the  Mike Dempsey Memorial International Tournament.  Long term I want to play in the Para Olympics!

What is your favorite Para tournament and why?  I have only participated in one Para tournament (Mike Dempsey Memorial International Tournament) so far, so it is obviously my favorite.  The atmosphere was amazing, the other junior USA players taught me so much about playing with limitations.

What is your training Schedule?  Unfortunately,  Table Tennis isn't very popular in the small town that I live in and there aren't a lot of resources so I have had to make due.  Currently, I travel to St. Louis for whatever tournaments are available there (2 hours from home).  I also have a robot at home that I use for drills.

Who is your coach?  Nobody at the moment. My family and I are researching what options are available to me.  As I mentioned before, I live 2 hours from a large city that have these type of resources.  We are trying to get all this figured out. 

Do you play any other sports?  I currently practice with my high school soccer and baseball teams, due to my illness I haven't been able to play in games over the past year.

What tips would you give to other Para hopefuls?  Don't get overwhelmed, be patient, and listen to others around you. I learned a lot from watching and listening to other experienced players and coaches. 

What parts of your game are you working on? I learned a great deal about the game at the USA Junior Camp preceding the Mike Dempsey Tournament.  I am currently focusing on securing a coach and formal training program. In the meantime, I am working on my looping and pushing.

Share your thoughts on your experience at the Mike Dempsey Memorial Tournament?  Coming into this I didn't know what to expect since I have only been playing competitively since February and this was my first para tournament.  The resources available to the players was amazing.  Learning the game from Stellan and Angie Bengtsson and Keith Evans was remarkable.  however, what I learned from the other limited players was priceless.  What they overcome in order to compete is very motivating.

Best tournament results so far? I have won my bracket in some local tournaments in St. Louis this year.  I played some great competition at the Mike Dempsey Tournament, I was very pleased with how I played and learned a lot for my next tournament. 

What is next para tournament?  I was hoping to play in Las Vegas but that didn't work out due to schedules. My family and I are currently researching what is available to me.