A Table Tennis Life - Willy Leparulo

By Richard Finn | Oct. 03, 2017, 2:19 p.m. (ET)

Photo courtesy of Michael Chen Photography

You can say that table tennis has been Willy Leparulo’s life.
He started playing as a 14 year old in Florida when his father introduced him to the game by putting up a table in the family’s “carport.” At college at Florida State he continued to play and is where he first got involved with the National Collegiate Table Tennis Association (NCTTA) in1998 as a masters student in Sport Administration.

In 2004 he was named interim NCTTA President when the previous President stepped down. In 2005 he was elected President and has occupied that position ever since.

In 2012 at a tournament he met his future wife Xiaoling “Shelly”.

So it is no wonder that the 42-year-old Leparulo considers all of the volunteers and officials at the NCTTA as his extended family.

“We become a family and year after year it is like a family reunion. Behind the scenes we work tirelessly to put on this great event working up to 40 hours a week after our traditional jobs,” Leparulo wrote in an email to USATT officials.

“I love working with NCTTA and am proud of the relationships and the people I have met along the way in this quest to make College Table Tennis better. “

A passion and love of the sport motivates Leparulo and his colleagues as they have worked to grow the NCTTA and table tennis on college campuses across the country as well as Canada and Puerto Rico. Today there are more than150 colleges affiliated with the NCTTA.

“There is no paid staff at NCTTA,” Leparulo wrote of the 60 ‘volunteers on the staff ‘. “We put in a large amount of time with no personal financial return.  I have a day job (as does everyone else) and work what I call the 9pm to 1am shift of NCTTA which is after work and family time we put in time to the organization.”

Key areas of growth and focus for the NCTTA continue to be improving post-season tournaments, adding more colleges that award scholarships developing more and better full-time college coaches and creating more competitive opportunities at the high school level.

“NCTTA was able to get its first College Coaching Certification training class on board this past August,” reported Leparulo. “Our sponsors TMS International pushed us to start this certification and I am thankful they did b/c it was the nudge that was needed! We had help from USA Table Tennis, Gordon Kaye (USATT Table Tennis CEO), Richard McAfee, and Joola and of course the NCTTA Coaching Committee, but it was a goal of mine for several years and now we have 15 certified coaches.

“Many other sporting organizations from Bowling to Tennis started with Collegiate Coaching certification programs and look where they are now as full-fledged collegiate scholarship sports,” continued Leparulo. “We can certainly follow the path as well! We have our first ever-coaching certification program under our belt and are looking for sponsorship for future programming in Summer 2018 and beyond.”

Growing the game at the high school level is another priority for the organization said Leparulo.

“This area has always been a difficult area for NCTTA, but I imagine an NCTTA-high school league where the different areas of high school table tennis join together to create a cross country league,” wrote Leparulo.

“There is an obvious need for this kind of grassroots programming and I think this is one of the most important goals NCTTA has moving forward. Currently we are working on a small scale with the AYTTO (they run high school Table Tennis in NYC) and would love to collaborate more with them and the NYTTA (National Youth Table Tennis Association) that runs high school tournaments in the Midwest.”

Willy Leparulo has lived a full and rich table tennis life so far and he sees many more rewarding days still ahead.

“I can't imagine being without NCTTA and College Table Tennis. One of my favorite quotes is this; " A wise man said that only true happiness comes from squandering ourselves for a purpose."  I think I have found that purpose and so have our volunteers.”