Paddle Palace Club Host First USATT Class 11 Training and Classification Event

By Sean O'Neill | Sept. 20, 2017, 11:27 a.m. (ET)

Class 11 Para Table Tennis Event

The Paddle Palace Table Tennis Club in association with Athletes Without Limits hosted USA Table Tennis’s first Class 11 Classification and Training Camp.  USA Table Tennis National Classification Officer Sharon Brooks spearheaded the effort to give athletes with Intellectual Disabilities (ID) a chance to start the international process of Para Classification and to also get some extra coaching in the process. 

Maggie Holland (MN), Nathan Nelson (OR) and Raymond Sacco (TX) worked with Barry Holman (Athletes Without Limits) to go through INAS testing on Friday after flying into Portland.  Jesse Nelson, Nathan’s father helped out immensely with local logistics and airport pick-ups.  In addition to USATT’s Para division supporting the travel and hotel of the athletes, local sports charity Oregon Sports Action picked up the food for the camper and coaches.

3 x US Paralympic Team Coach, Sean O’Neill and ITTF Level 3* Coach Christian Lillieroos organized a group of recent USATT/ITTF Level 1 Coaching Candidates: Wayne Steffens, Joanne McBride, Cory Johnson, Richard Brezinski and Nicolaos Antoniadis to run the athletes through basic skills, footwork, serving, placement and multi-ball drills on Saturday and Sunday. 

The players got an extra treat to work with the Paddle Palace Junior Program on Sunday morning prior to the final session.  Additionally, Emmy Pfankuch of Salem, OR a star 11-year old tri-athlete and wheelchair tennis star joined the group for Saturday.  Emmy saw the camp announcement on AWL’s facebook page and with an open day in her very active schedule drove up with her mom Jill to join in on the fun! Local Para star Andrey Borovik and his son Alex joined the action on Sunday and really added to the fun!

This camp was the first step to expand the opportunities to a very special group of athletes that really love the sport.  Their determination, eagerness to learn and appreciation was noticed by all the coaches and volunteers.  Additional thanks go to Chris Holland and Kirsten Jurgenson for jumping in with Barry and Jesse to be extra students in the group coaching setting.  Judy Hoarfrost of Paddle Palace provided amazing club conditions for hopefully an annual chance to expand para table tennis at the grassroots level.  USA Table Tennis provided the athletes and coaches with a team shirt to remember the event and Athletes Without Limits provided a goodie bag!

An extra thanks to Sharon Brooks for her vision and determination to see this event came to fruition.  It was a total team effort with the help of Para Manager Jasna Rather along with local coaches, volunteers and of course our great players!