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First Battle of the Paddles a Big Success

Nov. 20, 2014, 12 a.m. (ET)

First Battle of the Paddles a Big Success

The first ping pong tournament fund-raiser in Modesto proved to be a major success for the Boys & Girls Clubs of Stanislaus County (BGCSTAN) and for the 350 plus people who attended.

The Oct. 9 Battle of the Paddles featured two-person teams from 32 local businesses and community organizations. Players competed as singles in a rousing series of table tennis games.  Friends, family and co-workers cheered from the sidelines in the event at Modesto Centre Plaza.

The team from MOCSE Credit Union claimed first prize, and Garrett Mutoza from MOCSE was the top individual player in the tournament.

Helping to organize the scoring and other aspects of the tournament was table tennis pro Mike Sturtevant, who grew up in Hughson and now lives in Sonora.  After a lifetime of playing many sports he took up table tennis at age 52 and has since won tournaments throughout the West.

As well as ping pong, those attending Battle of the Paddles played darts, Jeopardy and other games similar to those enjoyed during their after school time by BGCSTAN members. There also were poker games, where the players could use their winnings to purchase equipment and games for the clubs.

Laura Ward, board member of BGCSTAN, said the idea for Battle of the Paddles came to her in the middle of the night when she was looking for something other than the traditional fund-raising dinner. “Boys & Girls Clubs are about fun, about people, about teamwork. That’s what made me pull this together,” she explained.

BGCSTAN, organized in 2011-12, began operations in August 2013, serving 277 youngsters in its first year. It now operates on three school campuses in the Sylvan Union School District, with discussions under way to expand to other districts. BGCSTAN is committed to improving students’ performance in three priority key areas:  Academic Success, Good Character and Citizenship, and Healthy Lifestyles.  

The first Battle of the Paddles was such a success that a date -- Oct. 9, 2015 -- has already been set for the next tournament. Some businesses pledge to introduce ping pong in their workplace, with the top in-house players earning the right to compete in the 2015 tournament.  The Battle of the Paddles has just begun!